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Becoming a self-sustaining business through open infrastructure

Wed 7 Jun 2017 | Mariano Cunietti

Open infrastructure

Mariano Cunietti, CTO at Enter, discusses how open infrastructure can help businesses break away from traditional IT dependencies…

An open infrastructure is a platform that is able to provide the user, or the customer, with the freedom to choose. In a proprietary, closed-cloud environment it is easy to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently, but functionalities cannot be openly transported as required. An open infrastructure, on the other hand, is built with publicly available components, and can, therefore, result in significant time and cost savings.

Running infrastructure on an open platform allows businesses to move around as and when they wish, switching to another provider or even to a home-brewed, customized model – provided that some effort has been put into understanding, designing and building their own infrastructure.

Europe generally has two mindsets on open infrastructure. Firstly, there is a conservative stance among more traditional businesses which have spent years buying products and delegating to a generic ‘third party’. This, particularly in larger companies, has resulted in a debt of technical skills. These companies are looking to outsource responsibility to a ‘big guy’, and hang on to the belief that no one has ever been fired for choosing an Oracle or an IBM.

This group are ‘comfortably numb’, and it will take time and a considerable amount of convincing for them to understand that the old way is no longer sustainable.

Cloud users don’t want to be seen as wallets with legs, they want to contribute and help build their own ecosystem

However, the other position is much more innovative. Many businesses have already embraced a new open model, and have taken the responsibility for change upon themselves. These firms are eager to drive and lead innovation and are requesting more from their suppliers, such as the ability to guarantee sustainable infrastructure.

This group of businesses are thinking in terms of the level of service they wish to provide, rather than the products being sold. This model is often even cheaper than traditional strategies and is more likely to empower people.

No more wallets with legs

The cloud market, as it is conceived by global U.S. companies, is a complex galaxy that pivots around the notion of the consumer. However, open source, privacy issues and related cultural trends are pushing European businesses to approach from a different perspective: citizenship, rather than consumerism.

Cloud users don’t want to be seen as wallets with legs, they want to contribute and help build their own ecosystem. So many technologies are now largely available with open source, and as IT grows into a wider social and political issue the time has come to step away from the traditional market approach.

Cloud is simply the operational basis for a whole new set of systems and interactions

To encourage further adoption and participation in open infrastructure, we need to underline the benefits of being part of a community and that being on your own doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to be alone. On the contrary, open source contributors can meet a lot of smart people sharing the same concerns and goals, in addition to the technologies.

Through open technologies businesses can become completely self-sustainable: independent as an organization, and interdependent within the community, but never solely dependent on an external party. This idea is not new, in fact, this is what Gandhi thought a community should be in the early 20th century.

Looking to the future

Cloud is simply the operational basis for a whole new set of systems and interactions. A big change is coming, and it’s not just related to what machines can do but also what humans are going to do while these machines are managing everything. Are people going to accept that being human is about conceiving ideas and working less, with a new breed of evolved robots doing the job for them?

For now, we simply need to try and replicate the paradigm: saving time with technology, to spend more time on technology. The bottleneck here seems to be the human, not the technology, whom must be exploited to create more. And by ‘more’, I don’t mean more money: I mean more value for the people.

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