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One of the biggest conferences in the Linux community these days is surely LinuxCon, and this year's LinuxCon North America did not disappoint.

Red Hat was there in force, with representatives from the oVirt, RDO, Fedora, Project Atomic, ManageIQ, OpenShift and Gluster communities being represented in sessions and in the booth (which was quite crowded at times). The Ceph crew had their own booth, based on an earlier arrangement with the show organizers, but we still teased them about being stand-offish anyway.

Being at a show is not just about hosting talks. Talks are fine for what they are: broadcasting a lot of information to a lot of people at the same time. But the real gems of a conference occur in the small private conversations that happen after a session or on the show floor.

For my part, I had a nice distribution of such conversations, mainly focused around oVirt and how it works. Interestingly, the conversations also seemed to have a common thread this time: Where does my organization fit in the cloud?

This is a shift in language. In the past, when this topic came up, it was usually along the lines of "how does oVirt position itself against cloud solutions like OpenStack/RDO?" But this time around, the conversations were more about "should I (and my organization) even be using cloud?"

It would be really easy for me, the oVirt Community Manager, to blithely say, "No, not at all! Use oVirt and all will be well!" But that would not be always true, either.

The best answer that I can come up with is that whether your organization needs cloud is based on what your organization needs. If you need application-oriented automation and elasticity, then you should by all means use a dedicated cloud computing platform, public, private, or hybrid. If you don't need that kind of feature set, then considering a virtual management platform like oVirt may be a better bet.

In the past, many cloud computing vendors advocated that cloud was indeed the answer to all of your IT problems. Virtual machine management alone would not give you the level of automation you need to make your IT more efficient. And I could agree that if cloud were simple enough to implement, then it would be a more universal option.

But cloud is not always easy to implement, as the complexity of configuring cloud properly and getting your applications re-tooled to take advantage of cloud is no small feat. If you really need the features of cloud computing, then the pay off is most certainly worth it.

This is the crux of the virtual machine management discussion: Is your effort put in going to get rewarded at the end of the day? To answer this question, you will need to analyze your needs quite closely and objectively confirm what best serves the needs of your IT deployment.

There is no simple answer to the question of cloud computing, but there is lots of room for discussion.

About the author

Brian Proffitt is a Manager within Red Hat's Open Source Program Office, focusing on content generation, community metrics, and special projects. Brian's experience with community management includes knowledge of community onboarding, community health, and business alignment. Prior to joining Red Hat in 2014, he was a technology journalist with a focus on Linux and open source, and the author of 22 consumer technology books. 

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