Cloud-based open source is being used by more organizations to build, manage and secure their systems. Many organizations adopt open source without realizing it, even when they use managed services.
Kubernetes is a popular container orchestration software that shows this widespread use. You need to understand the consequences of open-source components and code, regardless of whether you are using them knowingly.
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This article will explain how open source is used in the cloud. You will also learn about the risks and benefits associated with open source use.
Open Source Components in Cloud
Open source can be used as a whole cloud platform, tools within the cloud, and as part of cloud applications.
Open Source Platforms
CloudStack and OpenStack are two open-source cloud platforms. These platforms can be used on their own, or in combination with proprietary clouds. Open-source cloud platforms make use of a variety of vendors to provide processing, storage, networking, and other resources. These platforms can also be used to create clouds using your existing hardware or data centers.
Open Source Tools
Ansible, GitLab are two of the most commonly used open-source tools. These tools are often used for adding functionality to cloud services that are otherwise unavailable, or not affordable. Hosting is usually required for open source tools.
Open source tools such as Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service can also be used. These services are usually available as a free, feature-limited or resource-limited tier within a subscription plan. Cloud providers are offering managed services for a growing number of open-source tools.
Open Source Code
Open source can be used in cloud applications in the form libraries, frameworks, or snippets. These can be included during application development. Examples include Docker and Apache Spark.
Open Source: The Risks
It is important to understand your risks when you decide to use open source platforms, tools, and code in your systems. These risks will help you to direct security resources more effectively and protect your systems.
1. Inadequacy of dedicated support
Open source products usually do not include any customer support. This exception is only if you use a managed service, or pay a subscription to access additional features or hosting. The community around the product is your only support for most open-source components.
Open source code support is informal and less structured than traditional support. Contributors are not required to help you. Although you can ask for help from the community and are encouraged to do so, it is not always available or available on-demand. You should also be involved in the community to learn about current issues and best practices for your implementation.
2. Liability Risks
Open source components can pose liability risks in many ways. Licensing is the first. There are more than 200 open source licenses available, each with its own restrictions and rules. It is up to the individual to decide if they are legal to use open-source components and for what purpose. This applies to products that use open-source parts.
Security is the second issue. It is your responsibility to ensure that open-source components do not use insecure practices or that your data is compromised. Traditional platforms and applications are responsible for product security at code level. Open-source components are subject to community efforts, but security is not guaranteed.
3. Widely Recognized Vulnerabilities
Both the community as well as public oversight agencies make public vulnerabilities in open-source components. Public vulnerability information can be used by attackers to target organizations.
Public cloud environments can increase risk because resource use requires that you are exposed to the Internet. Equifax’s 2017 failure to apply a patch released two months prior to their incident is an example of this. Public knowledge about vulnerabilities can be both a threat and a benefit. Below is a discussion of the benefit aspect.
Open Source Software: Benefits
It is important to understand the benefits of open source components before deciding whether to use them. These benefits can be weighed against the potential risks in order to make an informed decision.
1. Supportive Community
A community of contributors develop open-source components. Because of this, a wide range of experience and expertise is used in development. This also means that more eyes are scrutinizing and verifying code’s functionality and security. Most contributors are passionate.