What is the next big step for universities that use an Open Source infrastructure? Since the term ‘’open source’’ was first coined in 1998, it has developed majorly. While we are now in 2022, we can tell you that most universities are able to work with an open source infrastructure. Furthermore, it is essential to look into the future and what open source will bring to it. Therefore, in this blog, we will look at what the next big steps for universities with an open source infrastructure are.
What is an open source infrastructure?
An open source infrastructure is an integration of open source alternatives for all different aspects for compute storage, and networking. For now and in the future. As you probably know, there are several open source infrastructures. Some quick examples are OpenStack, Kubernetes, and Ceph. In turn, these consist of various components. There are several use cases possible in all of these, depending on the organization.
What are the advantages of using an open source infrastructure for universities?
There are many advantages to using an open infrastructure, and some of them are particularly beneficial when it comes to universities. We’ll give you a few examples:
- The onboarding of new users and use cases to the platform easily.
- Using many sources, within the community.
- It enables independent research, research results, and design decisions.
- Helps to prevent possible conflicts of interest.
- Ensures integrity of the processed data, because the data processing is done on local private cloud environments based on open source storage and analysis components.
- Enables personal growth of the student as well as the university. It commodates being able to work with tools that are available ‘’openly’’.
- Flexibly allocating resources without time consuming dicussions about licensing.
- Easy to automate and operate effectively.
These advantages of open source ensure organizational independence. The universities have all the data at their disposal within every layer of their organization. For example, they can readdress previously generated translational data to new research questions. This dramatically saves time and costs. For the University of Luxembourg, this turned out very good within the field of medical research. You can read more about the implementation of open source at the University of Luxembourg here.
What will this look like in the future?
The benefits as mentioned above can affect your organization today. Yet it is also important to look to the future. Open source projects mostly arise from the technical layer of an organization and this continues to expand to businesslayers. Usually, there are people within an organization working within his or her small team, without connecting to other layers of the organization.
This brings us straight to the first point. In the future, it will be important for companies with an open source infrastructure to connect with the other layers of the company and start to work more as one big team. That will result in more knowledge sharing of research results, research methods, research usage, and how to conduct research on the platform.
Once this is well implemented within the organization the next step can be taken. Namely, the collaboration between universities worldwide. For instance, as a university, you are not alone. There are many universities that also conduct research in the same field such as medical research. Why not grab this opportunity and work together to share potential data and research results? In the end, this is all about flexibility and a social role.
As research is usually conducted on a long term period and as open source is a long-term solution, these research processes benefit from open source. For instance, open source is not dependent on a certain company but is more a collaboration of a worldwide community. The benefit of being in a community is that you don’t depend on companies and have more stability. Another benefit is that the community will continuously improve the software, improving the product with that as well. So, when it comes to the future you have a permanent growth of stability and functionality in the software components that relate to the community. Furthermore, there is a growing trend in using open source solutions among companies. This makes it easier to share knowledge with each other.
What are the disadvantages of an open source infrastructure and the international collaborations?
In addition to the fact that these collaborations offer great advantages, it does have disadvantages as well. For instance, contributions might get less and you depend on these contributions. A product could grow less hard than you would like or it may even end because there are not enough contributions to the project.
Another disadvantage is that there could be a change in the strategy of the community. Then it can be decided that certain aspects should be changed or removed. An example of such a case is the discontinuation of SUSE SES. By the way, we wrote a blog about this as well. You can read about the discontinuation of SES through the following link: https://www.42on.com/suse-pulls-the-plug-on-ses-what-are-your-options-now/
Furthermore, open source projects often require a lot of technical knowledge. You depend on people to add knowledge to the community. The technology surrounding open source products is often high-tech, which also requires highly qualified technical people. Given the current market situation, this can sometimes lead to little technical knowledge in-house to fully support the product. Keep reading if you want to find out how Fairbanks can help you!
How can Fairbanks help you with your open source?
Fairbanks is a fully open source focussed company. We have developed a service portfolio around open source products that focuses on running open source infrastructures, regardless of the distribution or version of a product. What further differentiates this service portfolio around open source is that we have different solutions for different knowledge levels of teams.
- For some organizations we help them migrate from SUSE SES to open source Ceph. In such a case we can help the company develop a plan and make sure the migration will go smoothly.
- Other organizations asked us to work together with their own teams on supporting a fully operational OpenStack cloud.
- Other teams asked us to work together to develop a LOKI cloud.
- Sometimes teams ask us to help them with difficult tasks within a Kubernetes cluster, in such cases we help them with our emergency assistance service.
What do we do differently compared to other open source companies?
We like to see ourselves as thought leaders and we are part of the open source community. We are sponsors of the OpenInfra Foundation and are also part of the community. We believe that it is important to enter into discussions with the customer and to cooperate fully. Moreso, universities in particular want to keep their freedom. That’s why we listen to them and then work as one big team. We fill a gap where questions are asked in open source for example architecture issues, problem solutions, and adjustments to the software itself. This is a different way of working than, for example, hiring a specialist for a longer period from an external agency or buying software subscriptions. Interaction between both parties. That is the strength of Fairbanks.
We can happily say that many universities now work with an open source infrastructure. It is important to keep looking to the future and, above all, to start working together. Beautiful things can be achieved and time and costs can be saved. There is a growing knowledge within the community that can help and strengthen companies with, but also companies without an open source. Do you have any further questions or would you like to connect with other universities? Then be sure to contact us!