By Matthew Dublin
While the community for distributed computing platforms like Hadoop are certainly robust enough to provide adopters with lots of support and applications, that doesn't mean the actual installation and management of open source computing platforms are necessarily a breeze.
In a sign of what may be a growing trend of vendors selling hardware and support with free software pre-installed, Dell and Cloudera announced yesterday the rollout of their Apache Hadoop solution that combines Dell servers and networking components with Cloudera's Distribution Including Apache Hadoop (CDH). The supposedly no-headache combo offering will include management tools, training, and tech support for a Hadoop package comprised of CDH, Dell Crowbar software, and Cloudera Enterprise with a Dell PowerEdge C2100 server and PowerConnect 6248 48-port Gigabit Ethernet Layer 3 switch. The glue to the package is Dell's Crowbar software, which promised to manages the Hadoop deployment from the initial server boot through the configuration of the primary Hadoop components in a seamless way.
In late July, Dell announced the release of another open source platform called OpenStack in a hardware package that implements the cloud computing software on its PowerEdge C servers, which they claim are specifically designed for hosting clouds — whatever that means.
Commercial offerings that include open source software always beg the question of why a site or user would want to shell out for free software, but as Derrick Harris over at Gigaom writes, it's not really a tough sell. Some Hadoop and OpenStack users already pay money for commercial versions of the software with support, so why wouldn't they pay for hardware with the software already installed?
The only argument against that logic would be if you're not ready or don't want to purchase a whole new fleet or servers, but still want to kick the tires on one of these open source platforms to see whether or not it will suit your specific needs. Either way, Harris predicts that more commercial vendors are probably going to follow suit, offering their hardware solutions with open source software and that ultimately it will be a viable business model, as scale-out infrastructure isn't everyone's cup of tea.