There are several reasons for this, but seeing my LinkedIn-timeline flowing over with proprietary software- and infrastructure-stack-related news, I feel I should point out some crucial points for open-source:
The source is open – you can actually see, what is happening! This gives you something which you won’t get with proprietary software and ecosystems: Trust!
Trust is not only what you need in times where more and more workloads are sourced out into public cloud- and hyperscaler-environments, it is a strategic asset! Trust needs to be at the center of your actions, but there is another aspect being strongly related to that: Security!
With open-source software, literally everyone can check the source code and find security issues. Yes, it might be painful and it feels better with proprietary software, since their security issues are handled way more silent – but this is security-by-obscurity! Just because security issues are not that well-known, it does not mean they don’t exist. Instead, there is a higher chance for them to be exploited, since there is no sense of danger. Open-source-projects fix their security issues regularly and often – proprietary software vendors might not do this. This leads to another important aspect of open-source: Support.
With open-source projects and solutions, you get an awesome level of support if you dare to ask. Yes, the tone might be sometimes a bit … nerdy, and yes, there are no SLAs, but this then again is where you can rely on professional vendors such as Cloudical, providing you with SLAs, professional support and managed services. The advantage of those vendors give you over proprietary software vendors is quite important: They are independent of a specific (proprietary) software stack! So they give you support and consultancy, but in an unbiased and open way.
If you compare this to vendors of proprietary software, they usually want to sell you their products – which might not be what you want. The open-source ecosystem provides you with many vendor-neutral frameworks and solutions – and you find a lot of skilled experts for your operational needs. And even if not (or if it would not be enough to hire those experts) – there are several very affordable and well-executed managed service offerings in place!
Since experts, specifically cloud infrastructure- and software-experts, are a rare things nowadays, there is a huge struggle for finding and hiring the brightest minds. Nonetheless, you need the know-how and knowledge to run your infrastructures and workloads – regardless of the cloud environment and regardless of the workloads you are throwing at them. Managed Services for open-source ecosystems are platform- and vendor-agnostic, so they can work on every cloud and on every platform.
Since the required knowledge is reusable and (mostly) independent of the platform, it will give you peace of mind and sustainability in regard to operations. This would be more complicated with vendor-specific software and infrastructure-stacks, since they are way more limited in regard to their usage and usability scenarios. Another aspect of open-source projects is that they are usually widely adopted and utilized – in their original, vanilla form.
The foundation of products such as Red Hat OpenShift, SUSE CaaSP or Rancher K3S is Vanilla Kubernetes. The foundation of Red Hat Open Stack or Mirantis Open Stack is Vanilla Open Stack. The foundation of Pivotal Cloud Foundry or SUSE Cloud Application Platform is Vanilla Cloud Foundry.
And the good thing is: All the things you or your partners know from vanilla projects apply to the commercial distributions. With open-source projects, knowledge is transferrable between distributions, knowledge is shareable – and knowledge can be achieved without expensive certification trails (although some very useful certificate trails exist). And: Knowledge is shared within a community. It is understood as an asset, not something someone owns (because it was so expensive to gain). Community stands at the center of open-source.
With community, open-source starts and with it, the circle closes: Without a community of enthusiasts, interested industry partners and supporting foundations, open-source would be not even half as appealing, as it is. Open-source is for a very long time matured, processes and governance exist for dozens of years, and even companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP or Amazon contribute to open-source. They form a community, big foundations support and steer the process and create the sustainability in the projects they chose to sponsor.
Open-source is all about openness, trust, security, support, managed services, vanilla and community. And this combination of factors make open-source a strategic aspect and a strategic factor in organization’s sustainability. With open-source, you decide against vendor-locks and golden cages, surpressed issues and horrendous prices. Open-source is trustworthy, cost-effective and driven by intelligence, not by greed.
What does this imply for Cloudical?
Well, with Cloudical we already decided to set more on open-source toolstacks. We decided to move away from Microsoft 365 and Google-GSuite-based approaches. We decided for an open-source CRM-system. We integrate them, we operate them, we trust them.
We are currently setting up, integrating, automating and starting to operate our own open-source ecosystem – and we will make this stack (i.e. Rocket Chat, Keycloak, Harbour, etc.) available to our customers as managed solution and service.
We already offer awesome consultancy and managed services, and we will step up the game later this year. There will be way more offerings from Cloudical, and we will broaden our support for the open-source ecosystem – so stay tuned on that!
What does this imply for me?
For me, personally, this implies way more usage of these technologies. I need to learn and adjust, even if it implies leaving well-known and comfortable ecosystems. But I feel it is worth it, because to me, trustworthiness, privacy and security are more worth than “just” comfort.
To me, it is worth every effort. I personally don’t trust Microsoft, Google or Amazon. I don’t want to be spied upon, don’t want to be bombarded with advertising and don’t want my profile to be sold to some random company. I don’t want my data and my workloads to run within environments we don’t trust (and we can not trust them, because it is their proprietary ecosystem!). I want to support alternatives, I don’t want this world to end with some dominating companies – I want freedom of choice, trust and security.
So to me personally, there is no alternative to this positioning and to this approach.