The benefits -- and drawbacks -- of the enterprise OpenStack evolution

OpenStack: Questions remain for the open source cloud platform

You've probably heard the famous quote about democracy being the worst form of government, except for all the others. Now before you quickly click away, I'm not going to go into a diatribe about the current political turmoil in the U.S. and around the world -- I'm sure you get enough on that topic from other websites.

I know it may sound like a reach, but I can't help but think of that old saw about democracy when I hear IT pros discuss their experiences with OpenStack. The open source cloud platform turns 7 this year, and its benefits are well known. In particular, it dramatically increases agility by helping ease the creation and management of large groups of virtual private servers in company data centers. Enterprises are also enticed by OpenStack's delivery standards, which remain rare in the cloud market. A lack of vendor lock-in is another popular benefit.

There are other open source cloud alternatives, but OpenStack remains a popular choice for top-tier enterprises -- including 50% of Fortune 100 companies. But while its benefits help OpenStack keep its top spot in the open source cloud platform market, companies interested in using OpenStack still have to answer important questions before deciding to implement it. High costs and service disruption during implementation make it less enticing to smaller organizations, for example. And even companies that have had tremendous success using OpenStack say it requires a huge investment by IT staff and the company as a whole.

For this SearchCIO handbook, we talked to IT pros about their experiences making the move to an open source cloud. Maybe what we found will help you decide whether OpenStack is an overly complicated, too-expensive investment … that's still better than any of the other open source cloud platforms currently available.