The New Linux of Cloud?
There have been many claims lately by a variety of different open source projects that they are the “Linux of cloud.” Typically, these projects cite a few key reasons for staking this claim, including:
- They are the new application platforms for the cloud
- They are the new epicenter of open source activity for the cloud
- They are the new ecosystem hub of the cloud
Certainly, there are a variety of new open source projects that have achieved prominence and importance for the cloud. And, many more key projects will still come. However:
- The importance of Linux is only increasing in the cloud
- Other open source projects have a long ways to go before they can claim the success of Linux
The Cloud’s Application Platform
As an operating system, Linux, of course, already plays a critical role running applications in enterprise data centers. Indeed, 10 years after Red Hat launched Red Hat Enterprise Linux, IDC cites Linux as one of the two key platforms.
As much success as Linux—and in particular Red Hat Enterprise Linux—has achieved already, though, Linux’s importance is only increasing in the cloud. For example, in the enterprise data center, Linux has now grown to about a 30% share of server operating systems and continues to increase its share of the market. For new workloads in the cloud or big data, however, Linux is powering a disproportionately large number of workloads. All the big cloud and web 2.0 companies, from Amazon to Facebook to Salesforce.com to Google run Linux. Linux guests are the most popular environments in public clouds. And in the world of big data, 72% of workloads run on Linux.
Applications need an operating system to run. You can build your cloud provider on top of an operating system or virtualize it in guests in IaaS. You can offer it as a part of a platform to deliver runtimes, libraries, and features in PaaS. You can run your own SaaS application on top of it. Whatever you build in the cloud, you still need an operating system. In the cloud, that operating system is increasingly and pervasively Linux. And, as the cloud grows, so too does the usage of Linux.
The Cloud’s Open Source Hub
Many open source cloud projects aspire to be like Linux in terms of community, contribution, ecosystem, adoption, and other key measures. Now, there are certainly many exciting and important cloud open source projects, and Red Hat is actively participating in many of them. For example, earlier this month, Red Hat officially joined the new OpenStack Foundation after already being one of the leading code contributors to the project.
Now, OpenStack is perhaps the most well-known and popular cloud open source project. The project itself claims over 3000 contributors from well over 100 companies. For its most recent Essex release, OpenStack had some impressive numbers, including:
- 421,695 lines of code added and 256,904 lines of code removed
- 217 developers contributed
- 100 unique employers contributed
These are certainly impressive numbers and admirable for a relatively new project. And, OpenStack is continuing to grow at a rapid pace. However, it still has a long ways to grow before it reaches the stature of Linux.
Consider, just for the Linux kernel (Red Hat Enterprise Linux has thousands of open source packages in addition to the kernel in it) some of the most recent statistics:
- over 15 million lines of code in version 3.2
- over 7,800 developers have contributed code since 2005
- over 800 unique employers have contributed code since 205
And, consider the ecosystem and results that just Red Hat has built around Red Hat Enterprise Linux, including:
- 8,000 applications from 1,500 ISVs
- more than 3,000 certified hardware platforms, ranging from servers and workstations to storage and mainframes
- numerous world record performance benchmarks, including in virtualization and cloud
Now, some of these newer cloud open source projects may evolve to the same level of success of Linux—or even beyond. Red Hat is investing in many of these projects with the expectation that they will do so eventually. But, they haven’t reached the stature of Linux yet. And, if and when they do, they will not be the “Linux of Cloud.” Rather, they will be the “[open source project] of Cloud” alongside Linux.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux in the Cloud
In this post, I have covered the generic strength of Linux in the cloud. In a future post, I will explain how particular features of Red Hat Enterprise Linux are bringing unique and industry-leading capabilities to clouds such as OpenShift.