With the announcement from RackSpace this week about their OpenStack open source cloud computing environment, the issue of the importance of open source software in the cloud is likely to become another bone of contention for cloud technology adopters. But frankly, I think it's a minor one, despite the online aggravation it is likely to generate.
The vast majority of people following the progress of cloud technologies are going to be consumers of cloud services, not creators. To them, it is the service that will matter, not the underlying technologies. As technologists, we have an annoying tendency to get swept up with our own personal beliefs and and a fascination with what's cool at the moment, especially those of us who evaluate technology and write about it on a regular basis.
But this is an issue that needs to be looked at from the business perspective and not the IT view. It just doesn't matter what the back end is as long as it delivers the services that our users need. Unless we are hosting and creating our own cloud services, the technology that drives the cloud is far less important than the business value of the delivered services.
For the long term, everybody on the backend playing nice will be much more beneficial to cloud consumers than the same type of religious war that tends to crop up anytime you get Mac, Windows, and Linux users together in the same place. As much as zealots like to think that their personal opinion really matters, most of the business world just doesn't care what operating system or application is being run, as long as it aids them in getting their work done and doesn't impede them.
So whether the cloud application that is driving the business forward is running on OpenStack, Azure, VMware, RedHat Enterprise, or CP/M isn't an issue to consumers of cloud services. Results are all that matter.