Rise of Polyglot report is out

We recently wrote about a disruptive trend we are following along with cloud computing, devops and open source software in the enterprise. Our 451 Research subscribers also got a preview of our findings in a recent spotlight report.

Polyglot programming is the use of many different languages, frameworks, services, databases and other pieces for individual applications. The trend takes today’s developers and IT shops beyond .NET and Java to node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, Spring and further still to Erlang, Scala, Haskell and others. Also in the mix are widely used API Web services, such as JSON, REST and SOAP, which are increasingly significant to building applications, as well as developer and user communities. There is also polyglot disruption present at the database layer with MySQL still being popular, but with ample use of the growing number of alternatives (NoSQL, PostgreSQL, NewSQL, etc.), including virtual and cloud-based services. Don’t forget today’s applications will likely pull in effective user-interface technologies such as Javascript, XML and HTML5, whether for internal enterprise, Web, mobile, consumer or converged audiences.

Although there is added pain in programming with multiple languages, benefits such as scalability, interoperability and concurrency increasingly necessitate it for optimal efficiency and quality.

Now we are pleased to present our latest special report, ‘The Rise of Polyglot Programming.’ The report investigates the drivers, disruption, challenges and opportunities from the trend. We also present market sizing and growth implications for polyglot programming, drawing on data and analysis from our Market Monitor service to show how polyglot programming will be part of a growing opportunity worth more than $35bn by 2015.

Our view on the Changing Linux Landscape is out

We are pleased to present our latest CAOS special report, ‘The Changing Linux Landscape.’ This latest in our series of long-format reports takes a more in depth look at the Linux server market and how cloud computing, competition and the confluence of application development and IT operations known as devops are all affecting it.

Basically, we still see commercial vendors Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) leading the market, but there are significant changes afoot, ushered in by cloud computing, wide use of other distributions such as Ubuntu, and continued use of unpaid community Linux such as CentOS and Debian. In addition, other distributions such Oracle Enterprise Linux continue to evolve and grow, as do the providers of Linux support, which now includes Microsoft. These additional competitors and choices, along with the new way of developing and deploying enterprise applications known as ‘devops,’ are all driving and disrupting the Linux server market.

This means challenges and opportunities Рparticularly in PaaS, which embodies devops practices Рfor both vendors and users. The report focuses on market dynamics with competitive analysis of leading Linux distributions, analysis of adoption drivers and hurdles, and customer case studies highlighting how Linux is put to work in today’s cloud computing environments.

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.

What’s in a name? Still open source

We industry analysts sometimes get a chuckle or two out of vendor names. Sometimes it’s a new vendor and we are left wondering, what were they thinking? Sometimes people take a vendor’s name and make fun or pun out of it. More seriously, though, we do continue to see vendors that focus and center their technology and business on open source software among the most frequent name changers in the industry. The reason is fairly simple: the name of the open source project is usually what people think of when the project is successful.

A few of years ago, we saw a spate of open source name changes, including Likewise and SpringSource. The reasoning then seems to remain the case today: the positive association of open source with cost savings and the positive connotations of an open source project in the enterprise outweigh any disconnect or disassociation with the project. This seems true even though differentiation from open source projects was a key challenge among vendors we polled recently for our report on sales and marketing for open source software.

This week, we were reminded the value often still lies with the name of the project, despite differentiation or branding advantages, as Reductive Labs, the server management and automation software startup that hosts and provides enterprise support for the open source Puppet automation framework, announced its name change to Puppet Labs. It makes sense and highlights the importance of open source software projects and communities in today’s enterprise IT.

Updated note: I also wonder whether the large number of open source projects and related commercial vendors in cloud computing will produce any similar name changes in the near future?

Open source and cloud computing – when Worlds collide

I recently attended Open Source World, concurrent with Cloud World in San Francisco and naturally, a good place to converse on and consider the intersection of open source and cloud computing and what it means for vendors, customers and the software. I found a general consistency among views on this, but did hear some surprising input as well. Below are some points and perspectives I heard while attending the conference, with some of our thoughts on those views included.

*While IT staff may be reluctant to let go of control (and embrace cloud computing), the fact of the matter is they can’t keep up with the business side of enterprise organizations and strategies. This continues to the case for many organizations that turn to both open source software and cloud computing as tools to allow them to keep pace. Interestingly, it seems open source software is more of an established pillar, with some trepidation around cloud computing, but familiarity and generally fondness for open source software. Open source does represent cost savings and flexibility, and when it intersects with cloud computing, this includes avoiding vendor lock-in.

*Since we’re always asking about how vendors and customers typically roll out cloud computing initiatives and infrastructures, I heard a lot of talk about the cloud computing customer process. Many vendors reinforced the idea that open source has paved the way to the cloud, a topic coverd here on the CAOS Theory blog by Matt. Consider Amazon’s use of the Xen open source hypervisor at the core of its EC2 cloud offerings as a prime example. We’re also hearing more and more about internal cloud use, public cloud use and hybrid scenarios where organizations look to their own, private resources first, then use Amazon, Google or other cloud options for higher scale and heavy lifting. Many organizations don’t want to compete with the initial, large cloud players as much as they want to emulate and leverage them. A lot of folks also referred to cloud computing and its potential to take virtualization beyond the hypervisor and beyond the server so that applications, databases and data are all abstract.

*I came to the conference thinking we’re not yet seeing much in the way of actual deployment of internal cloud infrastructures, based on previous vendor and customer conversations, but heard indications it may be more of a case of early adopters not wanting to disclose their cloud plans and architectures. This is a familiar theme in open source software, where early adopters and major users can often be shy about their use of open source software for competitive or other reasons. One vendor reported that 9 out of 10 customers are going ahead with some sort of internal cloud plans. We also heard about new cloud computing providers who are picking their customers, rather than pitching to whole swaths of customers.

*Cloud computing, similar to Linux and other open source software, is also clearly emerging as a major opportunity for hosters and service providers, as well as vendors that cater to them.

*We also heard that some large IT users, such as those in academia, are accustomed to using large cluster and high-performance IT infrastructures, so they are likely to be among the early customers and users. also experience in doing this among academia and newer, emerging companies (Canonical)

*It was not all cloud computing cheerleading at the conference, as one meeting revealed some concerns that cloud computing will not sufficiently meet the needs of high-performance computing (HPC) needs. However, there was quickly a response that HPC can fit with cloud computing as it does with grid computing, where a grid infrastructure can still use reinforcement from the cloud during spikes, for example.

*There was also an ongoing theme of mixed environments, and it seems the trend will continue in the clouds, where we expect to see proprietary and open source pieces used together frequently. Open source and proprietary software used to often be a choice of either/or, but with both increasingly deployed and supported together, the choices grow and the customer gains more control. We see advantages, such as licensing costs and flexibility, in open source software and truly open standards, but we also realize there are preferences and legacy ties for proprietary software as well.

Proprietary vendors, open source communities?

We’ve written before and covered the emulation of open source software development and communities by vendors that are not open source. One prime example is SolarWinds, which recently bucked the bad economy with a successful IPO. By providing low-price, low-friction sales and promoting its community of users that work with its own developers, SolarWinds resembles many of the open source software vendors I cover. In my recent conversation with SolarWinds, the company agreed it sees an open source approach helping it harness the power of individuals, which now number more than 20,000 in terms of active, registered SolarWinds users.

Another proprietary vendor, VMware, also recently displayed an open source-like approach with its Code Central, which is intended as a place where VMware administrators can trade, compare and refine scripts. Sounds somewhat like an open source software community, but obviously there are significant differences. Still, with its free versions and communities, VMware is another vendor that, wisely, sometimes behaves like an open source player.

The larger theme here is that open source software vendors must be aware that proprietary players are copying some of their best plays. At the same time, as we have covered in reports and blogs, we see an increased pervasiveness of ‘open core’ models, whereby the vendor’s core software is open source, but is also sold under commercial licensing terms as well. I’m reminded of a recent Twitter post from Matt Asay, who overheard, ‘Most companies, both open source and proprietary, now provide both free and paid versions.’ Matt then asks how should open source software differentiate, and this is a good and important question.

Our warnings to open source vendors not to undo the advantages of open source with complicated licensing, developer agreements etc. become even more significant. Dual licensing and a commercial version is fine, as long as everything is clear and up front.

Obviously, the biggest difference between open source and proprietary vendors is the code. This is where open source advantages that might not seem tied to available, open, transparent code can really differentiate those truly focused on open source. Regardless of whether an organization wants to take the source code of an open source project and work with it, that open code is tied to other advantages. First, is the modularity, flexibility and interoperability of open source software. Second is the avoidance of vendor lock-in, which looms large in enterprise IT and particularly in cloud computing, where lock-in is among the biggest concerns.

There are still significant differences between proprietary and open source software vendors and between the different types of software, and these differences aren’t going away. However, as proprietary players continue to emulate and take lessons from open source, vendors that actually are on the open source side will have to work harder to differentiate from them and compete with them.