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Promoting an Open Source Cloud

By Huang Yu, People’s Posts and Telecommunications News

As new technologies emerge, some enterprises are finding that future-proof services are easier to build with open source IT architectures and software platforms. There are many IT professionals who have come to believe that OpenStack, a rapidly evolving de facto environment, is crucial to the full realization of a global cloud computing market.

To learn more about building open cloud platforms, People’s Posts and Telecommunications News interviewed He Baohong, Director of the Internet Center, CATR of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), Lei Baohua, Director of the Cloud Computing and Application Product Line, China Telecom, and Sun Jiawei, Director, Branding Department, Huawei IT Product Line.

Is Open Source the Inevitable Outcome?

People’s Post: Historically closed architectures have increased their appeal by adopting an open architecture. Just as the Internet benefits from an open environment, can cloud computing find more success by adopting an open source credo? What is the significance of being open source, and what are the consequences?

He Baohong: Open cloud platforms will find success because open source platforms make it easier to share knowledge and resources. For users, open source means lower costs; for developers, lower barriers to entry and development costs. Open source is significant for cloud platforms, the cloud computing industry, and for society as a whole. The open source TCP/IP protocol was fundamental to global adoption of the Internet. Now that the stakeholder community fully appreciates the significance of open source software, developers are providing open source implementations for nearly all Internet technologies, and many standards have taken open source implementations into account when as they were being formulated.

A growing number of companies are leveraging the benefits of open source technologies. Some large companies are setting up open source departments, including Microsoft, who, in 2012, established a subsidiary to coordinate open source standards and drive the development of open source products.

Maintaining the uniformity of open source standards is an issue not to be neglected. Currently, users working in the environment with open cloud platforms face inconsistent standards. As the cost of switching between platform standards is high, users and advocates for open systems must remain vigilant to assure the uniformity and transparency of open source standards.

Lei Baohua: Cloud platforms are helping to enable a shift from Windows to Linux and, in so doing, making it more difficult for developers to plant backdoors in the software. One result is that open systems help provide the assurance for strong security that telecom carriers need when selecting an operating system.

In the future, I expect cloud platforms to be more open and deliver more convenient IT services. Cloud platforms can help integrate internal operational platforms, improve resource utilization, and upgrade external service capabilities. The carriers who are adept at utilizing cloud platforms will be generously rewarded.

Sun Jiawei: True open cloud services allow users to choose the content and price of their services.

It is ideal if users have the freedom to choose a desired IT architecture based on technical capabilities and budgets and can flexibly choose virtualization technologies, servers, storage devices, and networks. It is also important that enterprises have the ability to freely migrate applications between different cloud platforms that run uniform standards.

This vision is feasible only with open platforms that allow users to own, manage, and control their cloud-based IT systems. Open clouds also allow users to flexibly configure their core services to suit business growth and adapt to industry trends.

Based on this understanding, Huawei promotes the development of open cloud platforms and is an active contributor to open source communities with international influence. In 2013, for example, Huawei became a Gold Member of OpenStack. In the product development arena, Huawei FusionSphere cloud operating system, based on open protocols and community best-practices, combines online and offline capabilities, and supports mission-critical enterprise-class applications.

In the future, I expect many enterprise business operations to run on hybrid clouds, and, therefore, it is worth mentioning that open standards are also being used to guide the development of hybrid clouds. Open network environments simplify interworking between public and private clouds from various service providers, allowing enterprises to leverage all available resources.

How Best to Build a Healthy Ecosystem?

People’s Post: The success of the Linux and Android operating systems testifies to the value of a strong open source ecosystem. What are the key factors that contribute to the development of similarly robust ecosystems?

He Baohong: Ecosystems for cloud platforms should include two interdependent factors: the openness of cloud services and the open source implementation of cloud products.

Globally, there are a number of well-developed communities that are actively engaged in the cloud industry. In China, however, R&D into open cloud operating systems is still gathering momentum.

Early adopters in China include China Mobile — the world’s largest telecom operator by market value — joined the Linux Foundation as a Gold member in 2010. From this example, I believe we can safely predict that China will progress in fostering a healthy open cloud ecosystem.

Lei Baohua: In today’s business environment, enterprises have multi-dimensional relationships where they are neither absolute competitors nor iron-clad partners. For example, Amazon and Microsoft compete on many fronts, notably in cloud computing, and, at the same time, Amazon’s virtual hosting service has helped Microsoft sell more operating system software.

Sun Jiawei: Good open cloud platforms are constructed with collaborative healthy ecosystems geared to providing valuable business applications for customers. Such ecosystems create business transformation opportunities for customers and partners that propel growth throughout the industry.

The IT ecosystem includes dozens of giant companies with an aggregate market value of hundreds of billions of US dollars.

Building open, collaborative, and healthy ecosystems requires resources from many channels. For example, as Huawei enters more markets, it is increasingly difficult for the Company to provide premium cloud services for all enterprises: Huawei must partner with others to integrate open cloud technologies into value-adding applications.

Based on this understanding, Huawei is focused on the development of innovative IT architectures such as the FusionSphere operating system, and the cultivation of partners who are equally committed to building best-practice ecosystems.

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