Yahoo's recent open source IaaS announcement means you'll soon be able to download the same IaaS server that Yahoo uses internally. The "cloud-serving engine" lets developers build services in containers that sit above the virtual machine layer and, thus, provide a set of common services, in sort of a hybrid between IaaS and PaaS.
This is how a provider late to the game catches up with the existing herd of IaaS and PaaS engines that are already available on demand, such as those from Amazon.com, Rackspace, GoGrid, Google, and Microsoft. As I always say, if you can't beat them, open-source your junk.
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Yahoo is hardly the first cloud server provider to offer an open source version. OpenStack, which provides based storage and compute services, was released in 2010 and is backed by Rackspace, NASA, Dell, Citrix, Cisco, Canonical, and more than 50 other organizations. Additionally, Eucalyptus provides a popular open source IaaS, and many others support open source cloud systems as well.
So should you care about Yahoo's new offering?
What really matters is not that there's a new open source cloud computing software stack but that Yahoo is providing its cloud computing software stack as open source software. This may change the expectations you have for the larger providers, such as Amazon.com and Google. And it could push them to open-source their engines.
The core value to Yahoo's move is one of protection. If you deploy your infrastructure via IaaS, you're putting some of your IT infrastructure at risk. The cloud provider could go out of business, be mean to you and make you leave, or just become too costly. By having an open source stack as an option, some of that risk goes away, and cloud computing becomes an easier sell within the enterprise or government agency. The trend will be to provide open source options, including some that most cloud computing consumers probably won't use.
This article, "Yahoo's open source IaaS could up the ante in cloud services," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.