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Interview: Defining a true open architecture

Nurdianah Md Nur | Nov. 4, 2013
With all the hype around OpenStack, it is no surprise that vendors are trying to tie their products to the open source project. However, adding a proprietary solution to OpenStack will only negate its open nature. So what does it mean to have a truly open architecture?

Radhesh Balakrisnan of Red Hat

OpenStack is an open source cloud project that aims to provide an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) while helping organisations break away from vendor lock-in. While OpenStack is maturing fast, traditional applications are not yet ready for it. Taking advantage of this, proprietary vendors are trying to tie their brands to the open source cloud project. However, Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager of virtualisation at Red Hat, believes that adding a proprietary solution to OpenStack will only negate its open nature. He shares with us his thoughts on virtualisation, what it means to have a true open architecture, and the cloud.

Q: What is the adoption rate of virtualisation and OpenStack in Asia? Which countries are leading this and why?
Radhesh Balakrishnan (RB): The adoption rate of virtualisation is high in mature economies such as Australia/New Zealand, Japan and Singapore, ahead of developing markets in Southeast Asia and India. This is due to the larger x86 footprint and legacy infrastructure found in these markets creating a greater demand for virtualisation. 

For OpenStack, we're in the initial days of adoption with Japan and Australia being markets where customers are graduating from virtualisation to cloud and grappling with 'vendor lock-in' challenges. At the same time, we are also seeing strong interest from emerging markets in SEA from forward-looking organisations adopting cloud as well as telco/service provider segments.

Q: Which system is most commonly virtualised? Why?
RB: Compute (Servers) is the natural starting point for virtualisation adoption given the history of virtualisation as a technology with an ever increasing focus on storage and network as obvious areas of driving efficiencies in the data centre. All the buzz around SDN is driving an increased focus on network virtualisation among IT shops. 

Q: What is a "true open architecture"?
RB: The "open" label has been misused to describe the submission of some format to a standards body. It is not just having a single characteristic, rather, it is having a range of attributes that push the needle from wholly closed to truly open. 

It is open source. This allows adopters to control their particular implementation and does not restrict them to the technology and business roadmap of a specific vendor. It puts users in control of their own destiny and provides them with visibility into the technology on which they are basing their business. Open source also lets them collaborate with other communities and companies to help drive innovation in the areas that are important to them.

It has a viable, independent community. Open source is not just about the code, its licence, and how it can be used and extended. The community associated with the code and how it is governed are also important. Realising the collaborative potential of open source and the innovation it can deliver to everyone means having the structures and organisation in place to tap it fully.


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