The Pros and Cons of Open Source Cloud Computing

The Pros and Cons of Open Source Cloud Computing

Open source software is becoming increasingly more common in the technology world. True to its name, the underlying base of open source software is available for its users to study and tinker with. As such, dedicated userbases for open source technology have propped up to provide resources, updates, and technical help for open source programs.

The cloud has had no shortage of open source tools brought into the market. Publicly available cloud tools allow users to utilize a cloud infrastructure with more freedom and less cost to the enterprise. However, jumping to an open source cloud solution means changing your entire outlook on cloud management. Before you integrate any open source programs into your cloud system, consider the following pros and cons on open source cloud computing.

PRO: Cost efficiency

It’s often said that open source programs are free, but this isn’t entirely true. Open source software is free to install and use, but depending on the software, there could be hidden costs in maintaining and update it. Typically, however, open source communities provide free resources for users to operate the programs effectively. This means that  building a cloud infrastructure on open source programs will still save you money in the end.

CON: Technical knowledge required

One of the notable features of open source software is the ability for users to modify the tool’s code to fit their needs. In order to get the most out of open source software, your team needs to have the technical know-how to build and alter code. While open source programs may have user-made guides and resources, it’s not a guarantee that you can tailor the software to your needs out-of-the-box.

PRO: Community projects

The majority of open source programs have dedicated user communities. These communities consist of experts on the tools who want to build a series of resources for its userbase to consult. In addition, community-led projects to create new features, push out updates, or fix bugs are fairly common. Users of an open source platform can take advantage of these communal cloud-based projects.

CON: Unofficial support teams

When an open source software developer releases the code to the public, they generally leave it in the hands of the userbase to take care of further developments. That means that users must rely on other users for support. For open source cloud computing, users might need to become active community members in order to diagnose or correct issues that come about. If IT teams cannot address the problems themselves, they need to ensure the tool’s community is up to the task.

PRO: Data ownership

Open source cloud platforms are not commercially owned by a single party. Instead, any user of the program “owns” it. As such, any data you place on the cloud is solely owned by you – there’s no platform owner to take control from you. Putting freedom back into the hands of the user is one of the tenets of open source programs. For open source cloud tools, that freedom extends to keeping data ownership in check.

CON: Lack of maturity

Open source ideals and programs have been around for a few decades. However, it takes a while to adopt open source to a new technology. Cloud computing is still relatively new, so open source cloud tools only started appearing in the last few years. This means that open source cloud programs show a significant lack of maturity. Bugs, unoptimized code, and other problems are bound to occur in any open source cloud tool.

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Daniel Hein