OpenStack boosts business agility, availability, and efficiency by providing a platform with on-demand, resource pooling, self-service, highly elastic, and measured services capabilities. If this sounds like cloud computing, that’s because it is. OpenStack is basically your key to building your own cloud infrastructure.
Why would you want to do that? Can’t you just subscribe with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, Salesforce, Google or some other cloud services provider? You certainly can. However, if you are not comfortable entrusting sensitive data to a third party and you have tons of it, then an on-premise or private cloud infrastructure would be the better choice. By building your own cloud in your own data center, you will have more control of your data.
OpenStack enables you to do just that. So what are the benefits of using it in your business?
Benefits of Using OpenStack in Your Business
Well, first of all, OpenStack comes with practically all of the benefits of cloud computing. That means it:
Enables rapid innovation
OpenStack’s orchestration and self-service capabilities offers developers and IT staff with faster and better access to IT resources. Because developers can provision machines rapidly and on-demand, they can significantly reduce development and testing periods and have more freedom to experiment with new ideas.
Cuts down time-to-market
Faster deployment of IT resources also means end users and business units no longer have to wait days or weeks to start using the network services and applications they need. In turn, they would be more capable of rolling out and completing projects earlier than before.
Boosts scalability and resource utilization
Although not as scalable as public clouds, OpenStack private clouds still offer a significant degree of scalability. You can still spin up and spin down servers on-demand. So, for example, if one department encounters a surge in demand for computing resources, IT resources may be temporarily redirected from other departments to the one that currently needs it the most.
In addition, OpenStack also provides the following advantages over public clouds and proprietary cloud solutions:
Eases regulatory compliance
Because OpenStack enables the construction of private, on-premise clouds, it can help in regulatory compliance endeavors. If your cloud is in your own data center, you’ll have more control of access privileges, security measures, and security policies. You can personally take charge of ensuring that policies for securing personal data, financial data, and other confidential and regulated information are actually enforced and not just printed on a piece of paper.
Devoid of vendor lock-in
One major problem with using a proprietary solution is vendor lock-in. If you’re not happy with the vendor’s services or the vendor closes shop, you cannot easily hop on to the next. OpenStack supports a variety of proprietary technologies and can operate in a smorgasbord of hypervisor and bare metal environments. Its ability to work with commodity hardware gives you more flexibility in choosing solutions based on a wider range of costs and competencies.
Challenges of Using OpenStack in Your Business
In case you haven’t noticed, we didn’t include “cost savings” as one of the benefits of using OpenStack. That’s because if you really compute for the total cost of ownership (TCO), the OpenStack route of building a private cloud won’t be significantly cheaper than the proprietary route. In fact, in some cases, it could end up higher.
Scarcity of talent
Like many open source solutions, OpenStack initially appears to provide a much cheaper alternative to proprietary counterparts when, in reality, it’s often not the case. Generally speaking, the talent pool for most open source solutions is quite limited.
As a result, the hourly rates of the experts in the field tend to be much higher. Thus, what ever you may save on license fees will usually be offset by professional fees, especially if you’re a small business and don’t have the required talent in-house.
May take longer to implement
Even assuming you have your own IT department and you decide to send out one or two staff members for training, that’s still going to cost you. Besides, because OpenStack involves a rather steep learning curve, it might take some time before your staff can fully implement what they learn. That delay should be taken into consideration as well.
On the flip side, if available support for a particular proprietary solution starts to decrease or totally disappears (like if the developers go bankrupt), the pay scale of engineers of that solution and its associated technologies will naturally go up. An OpenStack environment won’t be as exposed to this kind of risk because it’s free from vendor lock-in.
Gartner predicts that by 2020, an overwhelming majority of corporations will do away with “no-cloud” policies, adding that cloud-first policies could also shift to cloud-only policies. There’s no question that the cloud will ultimately be the direction you’re headed. But when you do decide to turn your plans into policy, you might want to put OpenStack private clouds into consideration.