Entries Tagged 'Software' ↓

Another cloud deal points to changes, openness

I recently wrote about big changes afoot in the Linux market, the topic of a current special report I’m writing. We’ve seen significant changes in the Linux landscape and market in the past 10-15 years — including its enterprise fight and victory over SCO, its rise to dominance in HPC and, more recently, the faster, broader Linux kernel development that continues to remain strong. However, no change has been as significant as cloud computing.

As we’ve previously discussed, Linux and open source software serve as critical building blocks of cloud computing, from the perspective of both providers and users, and open source is also influencing the discussions of cloud computing among its communities. Conversely, cloud computing is also having a significant impact on open source software, specifically Linux in the case of my current research.

Another important thing to track as we consider the changing Linux landscape are partnerships and integrations. Just as we indicated the collaboration between Red Hat and Eucalyptus Systems signaled some of these changes, a similar, recent partnership between Red Hat and Nimbula continues the trend. This is also interesting because so-called ‘cloud operating systems’ that are among the disruptors to the Linux market include both Eucalyptus Systems and Nimbula. Another one in the mix is OpenStack, which again reinforces the importance of open source in the clouds and also bolsters the idea that cloud computing in general will emerge with openness.

The reason I see this, beyond the power of customer need and demand for it, is based on what we’ve seen from vendors, technologies and trends in the past. Just as cross-OS, cross-hypervisor support have become expectations for customers and delivered by vendors, we will likely see the same cross-platform support in cloud computing, with different clouds supported by different vendors to offer customers more flexibility and choice.

I’m still seeking input on the matter, so I also encourage readers to take a very quick survey on OS and cloud computing use.

A new SUSE Linux, separate from Novell

I’m currently researching and writing about the changing Linux and operating system landscape, which is being impacted by cloud computing, additional competitors and devops, as well as the ongoing impact of unpaid, community Linux distributions such as CentOS and Ubuntu.

Another one of the changes underway is what’s happening with SUSE Linux, largely considered the second-leading enterprise distribution behind Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which has undergone some uncertainty thanks to the Attachmate deal to purchase the distribution and separate it from Novell.

To continue the strong SLES development and address this uncertainty, it was good to see recently extended support for SLES to provide greater assurance to the community and customers. We’ve also mentioned before the credit due to Attachmate for communicating its intentions on OpenSUSE –important since both RHEL and SLES are bolstered, particularly in cloud computing in my opinion, by their unpaid, community cousins: Fedora and OpenSUSE. We would note we also continue to see strong support for Fedora community, development and openness from Red Hat.

Given we have wondered in the past about whether the SUSE Linux technology and business (including OpenSUSE) would have more opportunity separate from Novell’s other business in networking, identity management and collaboration, it will be interesting to see what happens. Will a dedicated SLES focus lead to ore market traction? Will it accelerate the promotion and use of SLES and/or OpenSUSE in cloud computing, where open source continues to be significant? Will the contribution to the Linux kernel from SUSE and OpenSUSE continue? Will there be another sale of SUSE Linux? Perhaps, but it looks more and more like we’ll see an independent SUSE Linux operating out of its home town of Nuremberg, Germany. And while I continue to see and sense some degree of uncertainty around SUSE Linux, I am also getting reports that there is still good loyalty to the SUSE Linux brand, technology and community.

Given the changes afoot in the Linux and operating system space, the change in ownership of SUSE is a relatively minor disruption. How well SUSE Linux, OpenSUSE and their supporters are able to tap into the driving trends of cloud computing and devops will be much more significant to the users and future of SUSE Linux, as well as any other version of the open source OS.

Time for your cloud gut check

It may be hard for Amazon, any of its users, critics or competitors to find a silver-lining in the recent cloud outage that took major sites offline for significant periods over the last week (ok, the critics and competitors are getting plenty), but I see a real upside for all: this has been our latest cloud computing gut check.

Just as we have seen in the case of open source software forks, dissents and competition, these challenges all represent a form of open source discipline that keeps code, communities and vendors ‘honest’ in the sense they must respond to developer and user demands and must also steer a successful path both organizationally and commercially. So while there is no doubt pain and loss from the Amazon outage, it is also a reminder that what does not kill your cloud computing deployment will only make it stronger.

It’s true, the outage illustrates that users and providers are still figuring out cloud computing, and that there is still much learning to be done. It was interesting to see some companies actually sending out press releases regarding how well they and their teams were able to keep their cloud-based environments going through the outage. Indeed, as highlighted recently by our own Tier 1 analysts Jason Verge and Doug Toombs, a number of heavy Amazon cloud users were able to largely sustain the blow of the outage and keep their clouds aloft, including Neftlix and Zynga. We can probably assume this kind of thing could happen with a private cloud, and if we don’t, we should. Still, the point is that the differentiation of technology and the team to effectively leverage it emerged as a critical differentiator during the Amazon cloud outage.

I believe the technology, tasks, procedures and preparedness that are represented in the winners versus the losers in this centers on ‘devops,’ a term we refer to often that involves the crossing of development, operations and other professionals in modern IT environments that both leverage and provide cloud computing services. Discussion of devops often centers on efficient use of cloud computing resources by both providers and users. Even when we consider ‘no-ops’ or more accurately ‘auto-ops,’ — whereby systems and operations are abstracted for developers and users — there is a definite need for knowledge, skill, experience and process when confronting cloud crashes, particularly on the operations side. Devops also represents a more holistic view of software in its environment(s), which is critical to crisis management and recovery for both Amazon and its users. Certainly Amazon and its partners are working hard to restore all of their cloud services to full functionality, but it is very interesting and encouraging to see customers and users adding in their know-how and talent to offset down servers and avoid downtime. It makes it clear why a large organization such as Facebook would benefit from opening its own datacenters and practices.

From Amazon’s and other providers’ perspectives – the cloud stubbed toe of this week also highlights how communication and reaction are perhaps as critical as the technical aspects of addressing what’s wrong and fixing it. Open source software also provides lessons here, indicating vendors and providers are best served by transparency and openness. What the message boards and Twitterverse are telling us now is that users will accept some degree of downtime and difficulty, but they want straight information on how long and how severely they will be down. Just as vendors face a challenge in fairly yet effectively pricing and charging for cloud computing, it may be difficult to provide guidance on recovery from an outage, but the same rules of PR crisis management apply: don’t over-promise and don’t under-deliver.

So just like a fork, leadership crisis or large, proprietary competitor is supposed to wreck an open source project or vendor, the latest cloud crash will finally stifle this cloud hype, bluster and momentum, right? Not quite. I would argue that just like a good fork, feud or megavendor foray into open source software is actually a strengthening, disciplinary measure, the latest cloud coughing will serve as a necessary gut check on cloud computing, thus helping us avoid a cloud bubble.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.21

DoJ/FCO says aye CPTN. Canonical readies Ubuntu 11.04. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Novell-CPTN patent sale agreed by DoJ/FCO, subject to the patents being licensed to OIN.

# VMware reported net income of $126m in Q1 on revenue up 33% to $844m.

# Canonical previewed Ubuntu 11.04, featuring Unity and also Ubuntu Server 11.04.

# The Open Invention Network added 70 new licensees in Q1.

# Brian Aker provided his perspective on the current state of the MySQL ecosystem.

# WANdisco introduced UberSVN, an ALM platform for Subversion.

# Karmasphere updated its Analyst product for Hadoop to version 1.3.

# SkySQL announced the creation of regional Customer Advisory Boards in the Americas, Europe, and APAC.

# Oracle released NetBeans IDE 7.0.

Necessity is the mother of NoSQL

As we noted last week, necessity is one of the six key factors that are driving the adoption of alternative data management technologies identified in our latest long format report, NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond.

Necessity is particularly relevant when looking at the history of the NoSQL databases. While it is easy for the incumbent database vendor to dismiss the various NoSQL projects as development playthings, it is clear that the vast majority of NoSQL projects were developed by companies and individuals in response to the fact that the existing database products and vendors were not suitable to meet their requirements with regards to the other five factors: scalability, performance, relaxed consistency, agility and intricacy.

The genesis of much – although by no means all – of the momentum behind the NoSQL database movement can be attributed to two research papers: Google’s BigTable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data, presented at the Seventh Symposium on Operating System Design and Implementation, in November 2006, and Amazon’s Dynamo: Amazon’s Highly Available Key-Value Store, presented at the 21st ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, in October 2007.

The importance of these two projects is highlighted by The NoSQL Family Tree, a graphic representation of the relationships between (most of) the various major NoSQL projects:

Not only were the existing database products and vendors were not suitable to meet their requirements, but Google and Amazon, as well as the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, PowerSet and Zvents, could not rely on the incumbent vendors to develop anything suitable, given the vendors’ desire to protect their existing technologies and installed bases.

Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO, has explained that as far as Amazon was concerned, the database layer required to support the company’s various Web services was too critical to be trusted to anyone else – Amazon had to develop Dynamo itself.

Vogels also pointed out, however, that this situation is suboptimal. The fact that Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Amazon have had to develop and support their own database infrastructure is not a healthy sign. In a perfect world, they would all have better things to do than focus on developing and managing database platforms.

That explains why the companies have also all chosen to share their projects. Google and Amazon did so through the publication of research papers, which enabled the likes of Powerset, Facebook, Zvents and Linkedin to create their own implementations.

These implementations were then shared through the publication of source code, which has enabled the likes of Yahoo, Digg and Twitter to collaborate with each other and additional companies on their ongoing development.

Additionally, the NoSQL movement also boasts a significant number of developer-led projects initiated by individuals – in the tradition of open source – to scratch their own technology itches.

Examples include Apache CouchDB, originally created by the now-CTO of Couchbase, Damien Katz, to be an unstructured object store to support an RSS feed aggregator; and Redis, which was created by Salvatore Sanfilippo to support his real-time website analytics service.

We would also note that even some of the major vendor-led projects, such as Couchbase and 10gen, have been heavily influenced by non-vendor experience. 10gen was founded by former Doubleclick executives to create the software they felt was needed at the digital advertising firm, while online gaming firm Zynga was heavily involved in the development of the original Membase Server memcached-based key-value store (now Elastic Couchbase).

In this context it is interesting to note, therefore, that while the majority of NoSQL databases are open source, the NewSQL providers have largely chosen to avoid open source licensing, with VoltDB being the notable exception.

These NewSQL technologies are no less a child of necessity than NoSQL, although it is a vendor’s necessity to fill a gap in the market, rather than a user’s necessity to fill a gap in its own infrastructure. It will be intriguing to see whether the various other NewSQL vendors will turn to open source licensing in order to grow adoption and benefit from collaborative development.

NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond is available now from both the Information Management and Open Source practices (non-clients can apply for trial access). I will also be presenting the findings at the forthcoming Open Source Business Conference.

Oracle is not to blame for Sun’s open source failings

Oracle announced on Friday that it is to discontinue its commercial interest in the OpenOffice.org project, prompting a barrage of criticism from the open source faithful with regards to its approach to the open source applications project, and community in general.

The company was accused of being community-hostile, for example, and comparisons were also made to Colonel Gadhafi, while a translation of the press release into “plain English” apparently shed new light on the announcement.

In truth though, the language used in Oracle’s statement is hardly ambiguous:

“We will continue to make large investments in open source technologies that are strategic to our customers including Linux and MySQL. Oracle is focused on Linux and MySQL because both of these products have won broad based adoption among commercial and government customers.”

If an open source project is clearly of commercial value to Oracle it will invest in it. If not, it won’t. Why should it be any other way? Oracle is under no obligation to continue any of Sun’s products, open or closed, unless they are seen to be delivering value to the company.

It is certainly not obligated to clear up the mess left by Sun’s mishandling of the various open source projects it created, in particular the promises it made and then failed to keep.

Simon Phipps has categorised Oracle’s announcement under “betrayals”. Exactly who is being betrayed, how, and by whom is unclear.

Simon, as many people will be aware, was formerly chief open source officer at Sun, the company that created OpenOffice.org and promised (originally in 2000) to create an OpenOffice Foundation to run it.

Sun’s failure to relinquish control over OpenOffice.org during the ensuing 10 years led directly to the creation of the LibreOffice project and The Document Foundation in September 2010.

Could Oracle have better managed its dealings with the OpenOffice.org community since it closed its acquisition of Sun in January 2010 and avoided the split between OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice? Perhaps.

Certainly the company is in a position now to ensure that in transferring OpenOffice.org to a community-based project it seeks to unite the community rather than causing increased fracturing. [Update: The Document Foundation has issued a vague statement that appears to suggest it is not interested in reunification with OpenOffice.org.] Oracle should be judged on how it handles that challenge rather than previous challenges that were beyond its control.

Oracle has had 15 months to improve the relationship between the OpenOffice.org community and its corporate owner. Sun had 10 years. Some of those now pointing their fingers at Oracle would do well to remember that.

NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond: The answer to SPRAINed relational databases

The 451 Group’s new long format report on emerging database alternatives, NoSQL, NewSQL and Beyond, is now available.

The report examines the changing database landscape, investigating how the failure of existing suppliers to meet the performance, scalability and flexibility needs of large-scale data processing has led to the development and adoption of alternative data management technologies.

Specifically, the report covers:

  • NoSQL databases designed to meet scalability requirements of distributed architectures and/or schema-less data management requirements, including big tables, key value stores, document database and graph databases
  • NewSQL databases designed to meet scalability requirements of distributed architectures or to improve performance such that horizontal scalability is no longer a necessity, including new MySQL storage engines, transparent sharding technologies, software and hardware appliances, and completely new databases
  • Data grid/cache products designed to store data in memory to increase application and database performance, covering a spectrum of data management capabilities from non-persistent data caching to persistent caching, replication, and distributed data and compute grid functionality

You can see how these products fit into the wider data management landscape from the chart below. The shaded areas are those specifically covered in this report.

The answer to SPRAINed relational databases

SPRAIN, used in the above graphic, is an acronym that refers to the six key factors driving the adoption of alternative data management technologies to traditional relational databases that are being ‘sprained’ as a result of being stretched beyond their normal capacity by the needs of high-volume, highly distributed or highly complex applications.

Those six key drivers, and their associated sub-drivers, are as follows:

  • Scalability – hardware economics
  • Performance – MySQL limitations
  • Relaxed consistency – CAP theorem
  • Agility – polyglot persistence
  • Intricacy – big data, total data
  • Necessity – open source

The report examines each of these drivers and sub-drivers in turn, investigating how they are driving interest in alternative database approaches in general, and how they prompted the development of specific NoSQL, NewSQL and data grid/cache products and services.

It continues with profiles of the individual database alternatives and their use cases and case studies before concluding with a discussion of the impact of these database alternatives on the wider database market and the likely consolidation, confluence and proliferation of various technologies looking forward.

Here’s a selection of some of our key findings:

  • The database market remains dominated by relational databases and the incumbent industry giants, but the emergence of NoSQL and NewSQL alternatives has in part been driven by the inability of these products to address emerging distributed and schema-less data management requirements.
  • Polyglot persistence, and the associated trend toward polyglot programming, is driving developers toward making use of multiple database products depending on which might be suitable for a particular task.
  • The NoSQL projects were developed in response to the failure of existing suppliers to address the performance, scalability and flexibility requirements of large-scale data processing, particularly for Web and cloud computing applications.
  • NewSQL and data-grid products have emerged to meet similar requirements among enterprises, a sector that is now also being targeted by NoSQL vendors.
  • While NoSQL is seen as a software innovation prompted by the need to deal with large volumes of data, the software innovation was a direct response to the improved performance of commodity hardware clusters and the ability to spread data storage and processing across that hardware.
  • Changing hardware economics mean that distributed server architecture is increasingly being adopted in traditional enterprise environments. The emergence of NewSQL providers is a direct response to the increasing need for scalable data management products to make more efficient use of this architecture.
  • Distributed data-grid/cache products are increasingly being positioned as potential alternatives to relational databases as the primary platform for distributed data management, with a relational database relegated to a supporting role.

The report is available now from both the Information Management and Open Source practices (non-clients can apply for trial access). I will also be presenting the findings at the forthcoming Open Source Business Conference.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.15

VMware launches Cloud Foundry. Red Hat heads for Ceylon. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# VMware launched Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-service and open source project.

# Red Hat’s Gavin King revealed details of the company’s Ceylon project.

# Red Hat submitted a number of specification requests for Java EE 7.

# Terracotta accused Red Hat of “trying to pull a fast one” with its data cache JSR.

# Zencoder, the company behind the open source VideoJS viewer, raised $2m in funding.

# OpenStack distribution provider Midokura raised $1.3m in seed funding.

# 10gen’s MongoDB is a core data service in VMware’s Cloud Foundry (along with MySQL and Redis).

# Tuxera has merged the NTFS-3G and ntfsprogs projects, creating its new Tuxera NTFS Community Edition.

# Nuxeo released a Google Search Appliance plugin.

# Opsview updated its Opsview Enterprise open source IT monitoring software.

# Joe Brockmeier presented six public relations lessons for open source projects.

# Couchbase spun off its CouchDB hosting business as Iris Couch.

# Neo Technology explained why Neo4j Community (now at version 1.3) is now GPLv3.

# SkySQL introduced a reference architecture for deploying MySQL or MariaDB databases.

# Jive Software acquired Proximal Labs.

# Gluster Virtual Storage Appliances now support KVM and Xen.

# Talend’s Ross Turk shared his perspective on balancing open core and community.

# Percona announced its roadmap for Percona Server and XtraBackup.

# Support for Flock browsers will be discontinued as of April 26th, 2011.

DevOps and PaaS, yes, but now No-Ops?

We continue to closely watch the devops trend, with some new offerings and new nomenclature, but also validation of our contentions this would begin washing over more mainstream enterprise IT.

Some of the most recent discussion of devops is coming in context of VMware’s Cloud Foundry announcement and offering, an open source PaaS that gives developers another option for building, testing and deploying cloud applications and services. While I do believe Cloud Foundry and VMware’s decision to opt for an open path in PaaS is further evidence that cloud computing may be opening up.

Based on some of the initial Twitterverse reaction to Cloud Foundry, it is also further evidence that devops is contending with another term that has emerged in the discussion of deploying applications in and among today’s cloud computing resources and environments: ‘no-ops.’ The idea is that infrastructure – servers, storage and network — as well as its configuration and maintenance are so automated, there is really no need for the ‘ops’ or system administration part of devops. However, in the larger picture and in the long run, particularly at greater scale, there is undoubtedly need for system administrators. One of the bottom line findings of my research on devops is that the trend is very much about a dramatically changed purpose and role for system administrators, who are typically freed up of mundane OS maintenance and other tasks, but who must also embrace openness and transparency in their operations and scripts, which can be very foreign. While no-ops may be one way to respond to developers cries of ‘give us root,’ I believe that devops with the ops is required for a successful approach. That ops part may indeed be handed off to someone else, and the options and ability to do so have never been greater — again thanks mostly to readily-available cloud resources and infrastructure. Another perspective on devops is that it is bringing some of the agile and automated practices and procedures of software development into the datacenter and operations team, which have previously been focused on their own scripts and stability above all else.

So when I’m asked does devops mean devs doing more ops? Is it ops doing more dev? I say this: devops is the confluence of roles and duties among both software developers and IT operations professionals — many of whom are increasingly working in both jobs at various points or together in their careers. No-ops may emerge as a preferred option as organizations use and grow confidence in various PaaS offerings, as well as more openness in the clouds in general, perhaps. Still, I think that the ops folks still have a tremendous role to play, and I wonder about the PaaS innovation that will be possible when we see the same style of collaboration and communication in operations that we have had on the development side, in large part because of open source, an example being Facebook’s recent move to open up on its datacenters.

The future of cloud computing is the future for open source

I recently wrote a column about the lack of a cloud computing bubble, even though the hype and marketing levels around the cloud have risen along with innovative technologies and vendors. As we consider what’s next for cloud computing with a survey presented by 451 Group, North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOm, we will also be able to get a good sense of what’s next for open source software, given the prominence and significance of open source in the clouds.

Given our most recent efforts to track open source software in the enterprise, it is relevant to note that we see a continued, symbiotic relationship between open source and cloud computing. In fact, in many ways, the future of open source depends on the future of cloud computing and vice-versa. One of the symbiotic relationships between open source software and cloud computing is also one of the main reasons I believe both will continue to be a big part of enterprise IT and a big opportunity for vendors and investors: customer enablement. The lessons, practices and community of today’s enterprise IT that have been ushered in by open source – more transparency on the plans for products and code, more flexibility in working with both legacy products and software as well as newer open components, add-ons and combinations, faster development and fewer dead ends via vendor death, acquisition or strategy shift — are being applied to cloud computing. We also see evidence of this customer enablement in the makeup of today’s communities, both open source and non, which include both developes and users/customers.

I continue to have some concern about how open will be open enough, and whether that will truly be open and collaborative enough for these new, customer-enabled cloud communities.

However, I remain convinced that cloud computing may be opening up and, just like open source, is much more than a catch-phrase or hyped-up marketing term. It is central to the continued success, growth and innovation of vendors and users in the key categories I cover, including open source and devops.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.12

Groklaw declares victory. Cloudera updates Hadoop distro. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Groklaw claimed victory, will stop publishing new articles on May 16.

# Cloudera released version 3 of its Hadoop distribution.

# VoltDB released version 1.3 of its open source distributed in-memory database.

# Black Duck grew sales by 51% in Q1.

# eXo and Convertigo partnered to add dynamic widget wiring to GateIn.

# Continuent’s Tungsten Replicator 2.0 for MySQL and PostgreSQL is now 100% open source.

# Texas Instrument introduced OpenLink, open source wireless connectivity for low power applications on Linux.

# Univa released Univa Grid Engine 8.0.

# OpenSAF released version 4.1 of its high availability middleware platform.

# MySQL Labs previewed memcached running directly against InnoDB in a MySQL server.

# Pentaho released version 1.0 of olap4j, an open Java API designed for any OLAP server.

# UnXis completed its purchase of SCO Group’s Unix assets, claimed trademarks never owned by SCO.

# Red Hat to re-visit virtual desktop strategy in 2012.

# Piston Inc has been formed to develop software and services on top of OpenStack.

# Renesas Electronics joined the Linux Foundation.

# Nuxeo is now incubated as an OW2 project.

# Dries Buytaert called for cross-pollination between PHP and PHP application developers.

# Oracle announced the first development milestone release for MySQL 5.6.

# Joyent and Nexenta target service providers with strategic partnership.

# Rapid7 and Sourcefire announced a product integration partnership.

# GigaSpaces has joined OpenStack, will collaborate with Citrix on OpenCloud.

# FuseSource added Fuse IDE for Camel to its Fuse Mediation Router subscription.

# Percona announced commercial Drizzle support, and new MySQL support pricing.

# Adobe and Zend introduced Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP while Adobe launched Flex 4.5.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.05

Cfengine raises funding. Symbian is *not* open source. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Cfengine raised NOK 30m ($5.5m) for open source configuration management software play.

# Nokia reiterated that it is not maintaining Symbian as an open source development project.

# Mozilla is folding Mozilla Messaging back into Mozilla Labs.

# SugarCRM acquired Lotus Notes tools provider iExtensions, cozied up to IBM.

# Stack Overflow open-sourced Dapper, its object relational mapper for SQL Server and .NET.

# The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to move its VistA EHR system to an open source platform.

# Gorilla Logic updated its open source functional testing tool for iPhone and iPad applications.

# Couchbase announced the release of Membase Server for Mac OS X.

# Simon Phipps discussed the impact that copyright contribution agreements can have on community trust.

# The White House released the source code to its Drupal-based ITDashboard.gov tool.

Is Android FUD a forebearer of Linux-like success?

Time is flying by so fast, it sure doesn’t seem like it was last year I was blogging about how Android is for real. Well, let me reiterate … Android is for real. The reason I say that and stress that is despite its success, we see a variety of legal threats, accusations and actual lawsuits flying at Android as fast as it is growing in the market.

Still, we seem to be able to fairly easily find agreement among vendors, developers and users that Android development is not slowing down, that legal maneuvering will not pave a path to success or that any ruling or action will take Android-based phones out of consumers’ hands. This is not to say Android doesn’t face significant challenges: real fragmentation and version overload; a software development pace that may be too fast for handset makers or consumers; innovation from rivals such as Apple, HP, Research In Motion, Microsoft and others, including ones we may not yet be considering a threat, but which may find an improvement or refinement. This could be as simple as serving as the more open alternative.

I’ve seen some criticisms of Android and Google indicating it is clear or should be clear what is open source and what is not. I would argue, however, that is has become quite unclear what is open source and what is not in all circumstances and particularly in smartphones, as we covered in our special report Mobility Matters two-and-a-half long years ago. There’s no denying the constant pressure for Android and Google and others in the ecosystem to be true to the spirit and letter of open source and its licenses, however painful, serves to strengthen its open source aspects. However, the statements and signals crying foul against Android are quite similar to the complaints, threats and, yes, FUD we saw swirling around Linux a decade ago. And let’s not forget the lesson of open enough, which becomes even more significant given cloud computing and the capabilities it is extending to smartphones and other mobile devices.

Bottom line, developers, handset manufacturers and consumers are heavily more focused on new releases every six months than who is suing whom in the IP infringement claim game and software patent ‘system.’ To predict where Android is headed and what is likely to happen as a result of the FUD, we can look at Linux, which emerged stronger, more competitive and more enterprise-ready after the infamous SCO threats and lawsuits.

I have no fear that Android development and innovation will slow down as a result of legal claims, suits or threats. I have no uncertainty that new features, functionality, applications and development will be the drivers in the market and I have no doubt that the companies, cash and consumers on the line will keep things incredibly interesting over the next several years. No FUD here. Nothing to see, move on.

451 CAOS Links 2011.03.25

Red Hat grows revenue 20%+. Google withholding Honeycomb source code. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Red Hat reported Q4 revenue up 25% to $245m, FY revenue up 22% to $909m

# Google is withholding the source code to Honeycomb for the foreseeable future.

# Rick Clark explained why he left Rackspace amid concerns that the company is exerting too much control over OpenStack.

# DataStax launched Brisk, a Hadoop/Hive distribution built on Apache Cassandra.

# Details emerged about Mapr, which is building a proprietary version of Hadoop.

# Hadapt emerged from stealth mode to commercialize HadoopDB research project.

# Mark Radcliffe said the analysis behind Android GPL violation claim is “fundamentally flawed”.

# OpenLogic partnered with MuleSoft to resell Tcat Server.

# Stephen Walli explained why the Symbian Foundation failed.

# North Bridge and 22 open source leaders launched the fifth annual Future of Open Source Survey.

# Evident Software launched ClearStone 5.0, monitoring Cassandra, Memcached/Membase, and MongoDB. (amongst others).

# Evident Software announced strategic partnerships with Terracotta, EsperTech, Neo Technology, and Cirrus Technologies.

# Black Duck Software announced the availability of Black Duck Suite 6.

# Great Bloomberg interview with Cloudera CEO Mike Olson on open source and big data.

# Continuent updated its Tungsten Enterprise replication and data management offering for MySQL and PostgreSQL.

# Genuitec released MyEclipse Enterprise Workbench and MyEclipse Blue Edition 9.0.

# Tasktop Technologies announced Tasktop Enterprise 2.0, including Task Federation.

When commercial open source goes bad

One of the primary proof-points of the success of open source has been its adoption by previously proprietary software vendors.

In February 2007 The 451 Group’s CAOS practice released its third report, Going Open, which examined the increasing adoption of open source licensing by traditionally-licensed software companies and captured the industry best-practices to ensure a successful transition from closed to open.

Four years is a long time in the software industry and in a few months we will publish a follow-up to Going Open, updating our analysis of the trends and best-practices and revisiting the vendors profiled in the report to see how they have fared following the transition to open source licensing.

As well as examining open source successes it is also important to consider those examples where open source licensing has not delivered the expected results, and the new report will also examine vendors that have “Gone Closed” and abandoned open source licensing efforts.

There are a few examples we are already aware of through our ongoing research. One analytic database vendor recently changed the license of its Community Edition project, abandoning the GNU GPL in favour of a license that would not meet the Open Source Definition (I won’t name them now since I haven’t given them the opportunity to explain themselves).

Another example involves a company set up by some prominent former employees of one of the big names in open source software. The first version was released using an open source license but was never updated, as the company focused all its attention on the closed source version instead.

Meanwhile one of the prominent “open source” systems management vendors appears to have removed all mention of its Community Edition software from its website, while the Community Edition itself has not been updated for 15 months. While the project is not officially “dead” it is, to say the least, “pining for the fjords” and the company in question could be said to be open source in name only.

We are sure there are plenty of other examples of companies that have launched an open source project or “Community Edition” only to later decide that maintaining the project was not in its best commercial interests. The question is, why did these companies fail to benefit from open source licensing, and what can commercial open source companies lean from their experiences.

If you have any examples of dead or “resting” open source projects, please let us know and we will investigate.

Please note, however, that in this instance we are not interested in companies that have simply gone “open core” or adopted copyright contribution agreements. As fascinating as those subjects are (and may well be contributing factors in the demise of a project) we are interested for this report primarily in the discontinued use of an open source license.

The future of open source is on its way

As an industry analyst, I am always looking toward the future — mostly based on conversations and experiences with open source vendors and, increasingly, customers and end users. Still, to get the most accurate prediction and picture of the future, it is essential to check these ideas, theories, trends and with a larger pool of open source software providers, consumers and pundits. Thus, we’re encouraging anyone who has an interest or stake in enterprise open source software to offer their input via the just-released, fifth annual Future of Open Source Survey. The 451 Group is pleased to have been more closely involved in the survey this year along with North Bridge Venture Partners and Computerworld.

In looking at the past of open source, the last couple of years have been highlighted by the impact of economic conditions, which according to both previous FOOS surveys and our own survey have been a key driver of broader enterprise use of open source.

However, economic conditions and open source software continue to change. While we saw cost savings and flexibility driving open source software when we surveyed more than 1,700 open source users and customers, we have no doubt that other factors — particularly performance and innovation, are emerging as more significant drivers.

We look forward to analyzing and presenting the results of this year’s survey at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco in May. In the meantime, we encourage those in and around enterprise open source to have their voice heard by taking the survey.

New Linux landscape emerging

Recent news that Linux vendor Red Hat is changing the way it releases code, described as ‘obfuscating’ or worse by some FOSS advocates, brings up an important discussion of complying not only wiith the letter of open source software licenses, norms and practices, but complying with the spirit of open source.

However, I’m going to leave that debate to others while I focus on another matter that is highlighted by Red Hat’s recent move: the changing enterprise Linux landscape. Red Hat’s move shows an intensifying competition in the Linux market, with Red Hat seeking to thwart or slow the copying and reselling of its code. It also highlights the change in positioning of Linux distributions, which are expanding beyond a couple of main distributions to a number of other possibilities, driven primarily by virtualization and cloud computing. Of course, there is also an impact from unpaid, community Linux distros, including CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu, as covered in our special report The Rise of Community Linux.

Indications are that the Linux market changes are continuing, with a greater impact from the unpaid community distributions, which are often ideal for stripping out or adding components for various virtualized and cloud computing deployments. Based on customer and vendor conversations, we also see Ubuntu as a much more important Linux distribution in the clouds, compared to the traditional enterprise server market. In fact, most polls and surveys indicate Ubuntu as the top Linux OS used for clouds, including our own. Finally, there is yet another Linux distribution that is not necessarily an ‘official’ Linux, but is certainly well-used in cloud computing: Amazon Linux. While the company does not promote its own Linux version, wide use of Amazon’s Linux AMI are, in effect, Amazon Linux. The same might be said for OpenStack, which is being described by Rackspace and other backers as a ‘cloud operating system.’

Given we have described 2011 as the year of Linux in the clouds, we will be watching closely to see how the market, the use of Linux and the various distributions and their backers continue to evolve. This will also be the focus of a new special report from The 451 Group that is coming soon.

451 CAOS Links 2011.03.08

Digia gets Qt. VMware makes waves. Rackspace launches OpenStack support. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Digia signed an agreement with Nokia to acquire the Qt commercial licensing and services business.

# VMware’s Springsource division acquired Wavemaker.

# Rackspace formally launched services and support for OpenStack via Rackspace Cloud Builders.

# Red Hat defended its move to pre-apply patches to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

# The Free Software Foundation announced the appointment of John Sullivan as its new executive director.

# OpenLogic scan results show that 71% of Android, iPhone and iPad apps containing OSS failed license requirements.

# Percona announced that it now has over 1,000 customers for its MySQL support and consulting services.

# Acquia announced the general availability of Drupal Gardens 1.0.

# Sencha released a free comparison test suite for developing Android applications.

# Techradar published an interview with David Recordon, Facebook’s head of open source.

# Grid Dynamics’ Cloud Services division is delivering private cloud platforms based on OpenStack.

# Opscode claimed more than 3,000 Opscode Platform sign-ups, previews new services.

DMTF highlights demand for cloud license management relief

The emergence of license management as a primary issue among enterprise cloud computing users, customers and providers was reinforced this week when the DMTF announced its plans to study and address a need for software licensing standards in virtualized and cloud computing IT environments.

We first saw the prominence of license management in today’s enterprise IT when we asked in December 2009 more than 1,700 open source users and customers to rank the sources of cost savings from open source. About 83% said software licenses, meaning royalties, provided cost savings. The next most prominent answer was license management, which was identified by more than 54% of respondents as a source of cost savings from open source. Other sources of cost savings included: maintenance contracts (which is similar and related in regards to this blog post), hardware, support, productivity and development.

Still, concerns and cost pains associated with license management are part of a theme that has been resonating among both customers and providers, and I believe it is among the primary drivers of open source in cloud computing. Open source is not only associated with cost savings, it is associated with greater ease and simplicity in licensing. After all, if you’re concerned about figuring out and paying for the cloud computing resources you use instead of taking advantage of those resources, you can always just use the free, unpaid software if it is open source. While there may well be similar licensing headaches awaiting customers of commercial open source software, the fact of the matter is open source does provide more flexibility and open source is no-doubt associated positively with cost savings, license management savings and general user empowerment.

We also discussed the importance of license management and related open source advantages when we highlighted the year 2011 for Linux. In addition, the work of the DMTF and the issue of license management also plays into our recent take on the pillars of openness in today’s enterprise IT landscape.

It also makes sense that license management and keeping track of what you are paying for in cloud computing would be a major concern for customers who need elasticity in pricing and instant ability to scale up or down without calling in the lawyers and accountants each time. Thus, vendors are walking the line between generating as much revenue from their technology and services as possible, but aso providing users and customers the ability to utilize cloud computing resources in a way that matches the technology – with agility, flexibility, speed, scalability and stability. Basically, if you’re gearing up for the tax deadline, or Superbowl or Valentine’s Day or whatever, you don’t have the time or staff for a license audit. At the same time, your cloud computing providers cannot simply allow you to use as much bandwidth and other resources as needed without keeping a tab. Just as the DMTF, we will continue to watch this issue and we are hopeful that the prominence and significance of open source software in today’s enterprise IT drives more open cloud standards, including those for license management.

A graphic example of Microsoft’s relationship with OSS licenses

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be a way to search Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace app store by license, but out of interest, here’s a chart showing the applications on Microsoft’s CodePlex code hosting site, by license.

Make of it what you will.