Red Hat: ME enterprises should not be fooled by the false ‘open’

Scott Clinton, Senior Director, Product Management & Marketing, Storage Business, Red Hat
Scott Clinton, Senior Director, Product Management & Marketing, Storage Business, Red Hat

IT analyst firm Gartner placed ‘Software Defined Anything’ in its list for Top IT Trends for 2014. Within the storage market, software-defined storage is rapidly gaining importance and becoming a growing market trend in the Middle East.

Open software-defined storage is transforming the way organisations tackle their data management challenges. More and more companies are seeing how it can open up the opportunity to significantly reduce costs, efficiently contend with the exploding data landscape, and support today’s increasingly software-defined and hybrid datacentre, all while discovering the new roles and value software-based storage platforms can bring, now that open software-defined storage is enabling organisations to take data, as it is, out of the box. Open software-defined storage creates agile, scalable, loosely coupled environments for unstructured data storage

One area that customers often ask for clarity is what do you mean by open? In fact, it’s not uncommon for the traditional vendors to slap the word “Open” in front of their proprietary solutions to deliver the perception of open. However, open has deep meanings and values that stretch well beyond marketing terminology and APIs but instead focus on enabling open innovation starting with the customer.

Today, open source is driving much of the innovation around data whether it be OpenStack for IT infrastructures or Hadoop for Big Data and analytics. This is happening to such an extent that many proprietary vendors are being forced to adopt some components of open source technology, whether they want to or not, which can lead to confusion and the risk of IT getting trapped in a “false Open” and once again locked-in situation which will constrain innovation and introduce hidden costs.

There is a simple formula when considering whether you’ve accidentally stepped into the “false Open” trap:

    Open + Open = Open

     Open + Closed = Closed

Open technology together with open collaboration, powered by open source technologies deliver a truly open platform. Open technologies plus closed technologies, still locks you into proprietary solutions, limits your innovation and introduces hidden costs.

So what does “Open” mean for a software-defined storage platform? Here is our view:

  • Open from vendor lock-in
  • Open to use your infrastructure of choice, whether it be physical, virtual, or the public cloud
  • Open extensibility to integrate and extend with other applications and infrastructure
  • Open development of the entire platform, not just what bits are convenient
  • Open community innovation, open source is driving today’s innovations around data
  • Open to run applications on the storage, converging compute and storage; bringing applications closer to the data
  • Open to directly contribute, influence technology based on your innovation needs

Some of the traditional vendors are loosely applying the term “Open” to the front of their technology or marketing without delivering the true value of “Open”. When looking at so-called “Open” software-defined storage solutions, please put them to the test. Apply the formula above to see if you are locked-in and where. Review the checklist above. Doing just these two things will help you avoid getting trapped by the “false Open.”

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