The cloud market is worth billions globally and it's growing all the time. No surprise, then, that proprietary software companies want their share. The likes of Microsoft are spending millions to promote their cloud platforms, saying they are more mature, secure or easy to deploy than the competition - and great value for money too.
But you can't believe everything you read... I want to challenge a few of the misleading statements that are coming out of the proprietary cloud world - and explain why I think an open-source cloud is your best bet.
Countering proprietary arguments
1) It is OK to depend on an API from a proprietary vendor : No, it's not OK. By taking this route, you're essentially making your cloud totally incompatible with any other cloud platform - either private or public - and you'll be locked in.
2) Proprietary software delivers better functionality : No. In the open-source world, tens of thousands of contributors develop new functionality and fix bugs every day, enabling speed and quality of development that is impossible for any single technology company to match.
3) Proprietary clouds scale without restrictions : Not true either. All proprietary software works on the same key principle: use more, pay more. By contrast, the best open-source solutions are free to download and configure. That means you can add machines to a private cloud or spin up an unlimited number of guest instances with no cost increase.
4) There's no good support for open-source clouds : Not true. There are now companies, such as Canonical, that are dedicated to providing comprehensive support for both private open-source clouds (and for instances in the public cloud).
5) Cloud is just an API on top of virtualisation : No, while an API is critical for accessing and controlling cloud infrastructure, far more is needed to achieve true computing elasticity. You need a scheduler, virtual network management tools and image and storage components to name just a few - so make sure all the boxes are ticked before you buy.
6) The cloud is just a collection of virtual appliances : Virtualisation vendors might say so, but it's not true. When virtual machines proliferate, it gets harder to deploy and manage updates and upgrades - and flex service capacity. The best open-source clouds overcome this issue through dynamic service deployment based on a minimal number of virtual machine images.
Read between the lines
If you look beyond the hype, you'll see that proprietary cloud technologies lock you in, limit the cloud functionality you can deploy and increase licensing costs. By contrast, leading open source solutions help you stay in control of your cloud strategy and scale your apps and services without limits.