One-Stop Support Strategy for the Open-Source Cloud

By: Jacqueline Lee| - Leave a comment

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There are many beautiful things about adopting open-source cloud solutions. Your development process becomes more agile, empowering you to innovate faster. You also gain a range of customization options while avoiding vendor lock-in and high licensing costs.

But open source, like all agile processes, also introduces unpredictability. Managing a support strategy for open source, which often means dealing with multiple vendors and remote software engineers, takes significant time and effort.

Choosing a single cloud vendor means always knowing whom to call when something breaks, and that’s a big advantage. You pick up a phone or instant-message a technician, who then takes the reins and solves your problem independently. With open-source solutions, support becomes more complicated for your own personal Franken-cloud. A single vendor may not be right for cloud, but it could be perfect for open-source support.

Your Unique Cloud Environment

Heterogeneous environments are the rule, not the exception, in today’s enterprise. Your cloud probably runs both virtual machines and containers. Maybe you like Redhat Enterprise Linux, but you prefer a hyperscale vendor’s cloud infrastructure. Perhaps you’ve embraced OpenStack, but you don’t want to migrate your Ceph block storage to Cinder. Or maybe you’ve started experimenting with software-defined networking using an open-source tool like Floodlight, but you haven’t deployed it across the enterprise.

Your systems probably occupy a mix of public clouds, private clouds and on-premises data centers. You also manage a mix of cloud-hosted and legacy applications that are hard to give up and tough to migrate. With open-source cloud solutions, you’re troubleshooting disparate but interdependent systems, many of them remotely. In an accelerating business environment, IT teams need faster problem-solving and deployment speeds.

When Something Breaks

The beauty of customized open-source code becomes a beast when something stops working. It’s tough to get an accurate remote diagnosis, and the developers fixing your code don’t always see it within the context of your systems. Each developer may submit a fix, but because they don’t work in a single shop, the fixes don’t work together.

Open source often lacks sufficient documentation, and it can perform inconsistently across different components. According to a recent Chef Software survey, IT teams spend 20 percent of their workweeks on unplanned tasks, in addition to handling daily operations, developing new applications, maintaining code in production, managing data and worrying about security. Fixing code demands time from people who already have too much to do.

In addition to being short on time, most IT teams are strapped for cloud computing talent. The New York Times reports that cloud engineers make $125,000 right out of grad school in the San Francisco Bay Area, with $300,000 not unheard-of after five years of experience. If your team is like most that participated in the Chef survey, it can’t afford too many six-figure employees: 63 percent of Chef’s respondents expect increased work, but fewer than half expect to hire new team members.

Investing in a Support Strategy

By avoiding vendor lock-in and saving on licensing, you’ve already saved a significant amount of money. Partnering with a single support vendor that handles multiple integrated open-source cloud solutions is a good way to invest what you’ve saved.

Look for a vendor that can provide support remotely anywhere in the world for all the solutions you use. They should be able to help with questions related to diagnostics, installation, deployment, automation and migration problems across your environment. If you need to know how to do something, and you need the answer at 3 a.m., your vendor should pick up the phone. The time and money saved, alongside the innovation unleashed, can transform IT from a gang of fixers into essential business partners.

No matter what lives in your Franken-cloud, the right technology support services partner can develop the one-stop support strategy you need. Open-source development may mean breaking things more often. Just make sure there’s someone to put everything back together.

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About The Author

Jacqueline Lee

Freelance Writer

Jacqueline Lee specializes in business and technology writing, drawing on over 10 years of experience in business, management and entrepreneurship. Currently, she blogs for HireVue and IBM, and her work on behalf of client brands has appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine. In addition to writing, Jackie works as a social media manager and freelance editor. She's a member of the American Copy Editors Society and is completing a certificate in editing from the Poynter Institute.

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