A blog for the enterprise open source community
Contemplating innovation, openness, clouds at OSCONJay Lyman, July 28, 2011 @ 1:23 pm ET
The annual OSCON conference is and should be about open source, but some different conversations, companies and of course new code all make the show a good milepost to check what is driving open source, what the current debates are, who is winning criticism and praise and what is making open source matter most in enterprise IT.
This year’s OSCON was marked by some new ventures, companies and faces in and around open source. It also became clear after several conversations with vendors, developers and users that the biggest driver of open source software in the enterprise today seems to be innovation. What else would be driving open source? Well, when we asked customers nearly two years ago, the clear, primary driver was cost. Customers and users also rated flexibility as both a top driver of open source adoption and a benefit of open source after adoption. However, even then we saw a significant jump for factors such as performance and reliability when comparing driver of adoption and benefit from adoption. This indicated to us that the reasons for and advantages from open source software were shifting from simply cost-effectiveness and less expensive alternatives to innovative reasons that dealt more with capabilities, functionality. Time and cost will always be big factors, but it has been interesting to watch this transition, and OSCON appears to be a milepost that we’ve reached a point where innovation trumps other factors most of the time. We will be doing more research into open source software and what’s driving it, particularly in cloud computing, later this year.
This is the role of open source software that I discussed when considering it along with open standards, open clouds and open data as the keys to openness in today’s enterprise IT.
We also saw another perspective on open clouds emerge at OSCON, and this time from a more organic source than the Open Cloud Manifesto that emerged from IBM and was received with some skepticism given it was a vendor effort. Instead the Open Cloud Initiative has been formed to lay out not technologies, not standards, but principles intended to keep customers, their software and their data open and free of lock-in, which has crept back up to the top of customers minds, particularly in cloud computing. While it benefits from having some true thought leaders in open source and cloud computing who work for powerful vendors, the OCI is focused on being a non-vendor organization. This is partly why it was set up as a non-profit, according to OCI board director John Mark Walker, who is joined by OCI President and Founder Sam Johnston and fellow directors Rick Clark, Marc Fleischmann, Shanley Kane, Sam Ramji and Simon Wardley, among others.
The OCI intends, with community input, to provide a legal framework for cloud computing vendors and users to come together on requirements that can be applied to products and services in the market. The organization has formed key principles around interoperability, user portability and standards that include copyrights, patents, trademarks and implementations. The idea is to ensure that cloud computing services are open enough for users to move among them without having certain parts of their infrastructure, applications or data locked or silod with a single provider or consortium. It’s an admirable effort and will hopefully add to the pressure to keep cloud computing open.
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