Sumit Sharma

Cloud Computing and Open Innovation

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Did you know that the virtual machines provisioned on Amazon Web Services are Linux machines – that’s clearly opensource. The fact that Google, Facebook, Yahoo – you name it – are built on opensource technologies? The Cloud is built on opensource. It is easy to provision open source based servers, which implies easy access to an environment that easily enables one to set up a whole bunch of servers – this has definitely been a differentiator, and a source of value, for people. However now that we don’t need to “provision” any more, since we can just open up our coin purses and rent space from Rackspace, AWS et all brings up an interesting argument that is argued in certain circles of geekdom: that the cloud is killing opensource innovation.
I don’t think so.
Ponder this: This easy access to compute resources via the cloud feeds the need for software which in turn drives the compute resources – which creates a cycle that feeds open source software – the cloud is enabling and encouraging open source – NOT killing it.
The Linux foundation encourages vendors and developers to standardize their virtualization activities around KVM (Kernel Based Virtual Machine) – virtualization is a critical component of defining a “cloud” – and in most open source areas you find a drive towards a single product that garners the most adoption, just look at Linux has dominated the enterprise server OS market (along with Windows). Does the fact that there are so many players within a Linux world blunt the adoption of open source? – Nope. Linux and cloud are like choc and peanut butter!.

Fine, say you agree, but then you wonder: Are people going to continue to use Open source as the cloud matures?
Yes, in fact the Cloud is great for keeping opensource alive:Check out Openstack – a new open source framework for developing and implementing internal cloud architectures. This is a hybrid of many service providers and companies’ products as opposed to a specific VMware, HP or AWS cloud stack. The goal is to provide a mix and match, to form a best of breed solution, for a cloud computing stack. This shall be empowered by a community of collaborators who will together formulate a standards-based cloud infrastructure that is free, open source and agonstic to architectural components such as APIs, hypervisors and so on.

Is there an open source biz model? Thats the wrong question! Its more do you have a good business model, and then can you use open source to get there cheaper, better, faster. Where are investment dollars coming from at the same time – the major investment in open source hasnt come from VCs, its come from intel, Google, IBM – they want to push the industry to innovate and grow the internet – creating new classes of software etc.

Will people disclose their innovation (give back) inside their cloud? How do we give back: You shouldn’t care – it doesn’t matter because you will. The benefit of using open source, is the fact that you reduce R&D to share innovation. You don’t get benefit of Open source without benefit of the mainstream projects out there. The value of open source in the stack is continually rising so the more you hide innovation, the more you lose out.
Technology like Hadoop doesn’t come out of software vendors. It’s an interesting thing to ponder upon: Vendor success vs. Software success.


Written by Sumit

July 27, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Cloud Computing

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