Open source overcoming scale problems

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012

In the past, one of the greatest criticisms of open source systems was their inability to scale to meet enterprise requirements. According to a recent CloudPro report, the rise of cloud computing and advances in open source development have erased this critique, as open source systems are not only scaling to enterprise needs, but meeting hyperscale requirements.

This trend has been evident for some time now, but became especially clear with Canonical's recent announcement of its new service plan built around Ubuntu systems. Ubuntu, an open source virtual server operating system, fits the bill of a quality open source program that may have struggled with scale issues in the past. However, using the cloud as the foundation, Canonical has been able to use Ubuntu to give IT administrators control over an entire rack of servers, not just one virtual machine at a time. This hyperscale capability has led to the claim that Ubuntu is the best virtual server operating system available for private, public or hybrid clouds, not just the best open source system, the report said.

According to the news source, a similar movement has begun in the database sector as well, as Twitter has managed to code an open source SQL database system to meet the social media company's need for managing structured and unstructured data. The scale requirement of such a system is huge, but Twitter has been able to customize and adjust the open source code to make it work, marking another clear indication that open source is shedding its traditional scalability weakness and gain another edge over proprietary systems.

In a Twitter company blog, Jeremy Cole and Davi Arnaut explained that the company has been able to achieve such scalability goals because of the flexibility of open source systems, the report said..

"Due to our scale, we push MySQL a lot further than most companies. Of course, MySQL is open source software, so we have the ability to change it to suit our needs. Since we believe in sharing knowledge and that open source software facilitates innovation, we have decided to open source our MySQL work on GitHub under the BSD New license," the blog post explained, according to the news source.

The report went on to explain that it is important to realize that open source, in and of itself, is not always criticised for its scalability limitations. Instead, it would be more accurate to say that specific open source applications have faced scrutiny and the stigma has passed, in the eyes of some, to the open source software community as a whole. However, recent trends in cloud computing and open source development make it clear that organizations are able to customize open source software to such an extent that it can be scaled to meet operational requirement.

This trend is especially valuable in the open source database industry. Data has emerged as the lifeblood of the enterprise. It is becoming the currency upon which the business world runs and organizations cannot afford to manage their information assets in an inefficient manner. Because of this, it is integral that businesses no longer settle for out-of-the-box proprietary solutions that offer some power, but lack the flexibility to really meet enterprise operational requirements. This is especially prevalent for companies using the cloud, as the pace of IT and business processes accelerate so much that specialized systems are need to meet specific needs. This need is driving the rise of cloud-based open source database systems, as the cloud foundation provides the infrastructure flexibility needed to support enterprise functions while the open source code enables the freedom necessary to optimize the database.