Definition of devops harkens open core debates

When open source software was still getting established in the enterprise five years ago or so, there was a lot of discussion about so-called open core ripoffs. The concern was that anyone and everyone was proclaiming an association with open source software, even if most or all of their products were proprietary. Today, a similar debate has arisen about devops, a convergence of software development and IT operations for optimal speed, efficiency and other advantages.

For those concerned about misuse or abuse of the term “devops” — which has come to be positively associated with rapid releases, collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness rather than the somewhat rogue movement it was considered a few years ago — there may be some lessons in open source software that indicate the movement and the term will endure, regardless of the posers.

Read the entire article at LinuxInsider.

Announcing the Sixth Annual Future of Open Source Survey

Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners, in partnership with 451 Research, yesterday announced a collaboration to conduct the sixth annual Future of Open Source Survey.

The survey, an annual bellwether of the state of the open source industry, is supported by more than 20 open source software (OSS) industry leaders and is open to participation from the entire open source community.

The survey results point out market opportunities, identify issues affecting the enterprise adoption of open source, and foreshadow industry trends for 2012 and beyond. Open to the general public today, the survey closes at the end of April.

Survey results will be presented at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC, May 20 – 21, 2012) at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco – Embarcadero during the keynote panel on opening day. Moderating the panel will be Tim Yeaton, CEO and President, Black Duck Software and Michael Skok, general partner at North Bridge Venture Partners. Yeaton and Skok will be joined by several industry executives including Tom Erickson, CEO, Acquia.

Take the survey here:

See results of last year’s survey here.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.02.18

Topics for this podcast:

*Infobright lights up machine-denerated data analytics
*CouchOne and Membase merge to form Couchbase
*DataStax adds onto Apache Cassandra-centered efforts
*Eucalyptus Systems grows enterprise partners, users
*The four pillars of openness

iTunes or direct download (24:51, 4.3MB)

Happy Holidays from 451 CAOS

The 451 Group Commercial Adoption of Open Source (CAOS) team would like to wish a safe, healthy and Happy Holidays to our CAOS community. It’s been an exciting year and we look forward to more open source software posts, podcasts, discussions and disruption in 2011.

The open pressure in the mobile game

This time last year, I was researching and writing our CAOS report, ‘Mobility Matters.’ At the time, we indicated that open source software was prevalent across all layers of the mobile software stack. We viewed Linux and its various mobile forms — Android, Moblin, Ubuntu Netbook Remix and others — as a weapon that OEMs would wield competitively, particularly as they responded to Apple and its deep iPhone disruption. However, we also noted that open source tends to be actually less open in the mobile world. Developments this week and ongoing indicate this continues to be the case.

We wrote last year about how openness was emerging as a significant factor, differentiator and disruptor in the mobile software market, with Apple enjoying success with its closed, controlled approached, but also getting pressure from more open plays, such as Google’s Android.

Now we see it is Android that is feeling the pressure. I believe new and different players, as well as venerable mobile vendors, all have tremendous opportunity around Linux and open source software in mobile and consumer devices. However, the more strings, NDAs, licenses and developer agreements they add, the more they close development, the process and applications, the more they curtail the opportunity.

We can understand and appreciate the need for carriers and handset makers to control certain aspects of how a mobile device behaves, communicates and interfaces with the user. However, on the other end of the line, where we have ISVs, software developers and other members of this market and community, real openness and transparency is critical. Here, the hooks and controls don’t make as much sense and, frankly, don’t cut it with developers.

While this is not the first time I’ve questioned Google’s approach and Matt has illustrated the problem with half-open, I do believe it is among the key stakeholders in the open mobile opportunity. Still, it is now being put to the test and will have to respond appropriately if it is to retain widespread respect among developers. And Google and Apple are not alone. Any vendor that is picking its fruit from the open source tree must be wary of the line between being open and not.

451 Group CAOS 12 Webinar – Open source licenses

UPDATED – I’ve added a link to the actual Webinar, which is available here.

We recently announced publication of our latest long-form CAOS report, The Myth of Open Source License Proliferation. Now it’s time for the Webinar covering our twelfth CAOS long report, Tuesday, July 21 at 10am PT, to delve into some of the questions we answered and other highlights of this, our latest report. Register for the Webinar here. If you are a Linux user or your platform is otherwise not supported, we understand and can send slides before the presentation. Just send a request for CAOS 12 Webinar slides to Jay Lyman, please. Thanks and we look forward to more conversation on open source software licenses.

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.

Nagios fork – commercial growing pains, commercial interests

Open source eyes are watching the latest fork, this time Icinga, a new offshoot of the widely-used open source monitoring software Nagios. The fork and its impetus appear to center on a community desire for faster, wider, more open development, but it seems there may indeed be another prong to this fork.

Netways, a German company that supports and contributes to Nagios, is among those behind Icinga. As the new project team’s site indicates, ‘This team currently consists of members of the previous Nagios community advisory board, developers of numerous Nagios extensions and Netways, the organiser of the Conference on Nagios and provider of the NagiosExchange platform.’ Although it is certainly natural and even beneficial to have some commercial backing of a fork, the extent to which this represents Netways’ efforts to establish itself as the German company and community for Nagios seems unclear. I would also add that this is the only reference from Icinga on Netways, other than the team page which highlights three of seven founding members working on Netways-related projects with Nagios. Again, it is good to see vendor involvement, participation and support and Netways has contributed positively to the Nagios community, but there has also been some bad blood between Netways and Nagios Enterprises, the bootstrapped, commercial company based on Nagios and founded by the software’s creator, Ethan Galstad. The dispute centers on trademark issues, both honoring the Nagios U.S. trademark and Netware’s successful move to secure a German trademark for Nagios.

This dispute, along with some perspective on what it all means, is summed up rather objectively and well by Nagios developer Andreas Ericsson here.

While it seems the Icinga fork may have some commercial influences of its own, there is truly a bottleneck issue with the Nagios project, which admittedly was never originally intended for the large, enterprise environments it monitors today. The so-called bottleneck himself, Nagios creator Ethan Galstad, acknowledged there have been holdups in the software’s progress because of his position as sole code gatekeeper. The good news is that Galstad, as well as Ericsson, have recognized the need to change things and plan to do so. I expect we’ll be hearing about some changes in procedures and roles in the Nagios development community shortly. Ericsson has hopes the revamping may bring back the Icinga contributors. While I find this unlikely, I still think the Icinga fork has already served a valid purpose as a form of open source discipline that is forcing project leaders to listen to the community and assess things. I also liken this to Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux, which didn’t hurt Red Hat as much as serve as a necessary check on Red Hat’s Linux business, which was improved with speeded and sharpened support in response.

In the end, the Nagios fork shows how there are certainly growing pains when taking an open source project to widespread enterprise use and business. It also shows that commercial interests are playing a more prominent role, even from the point of inception, in open source software projects and, yes, forks.

SpringSource-Hyperic not so open source, not so bad

There’s quite a bit of discussion about SpringSource’s annnounced acquisition of Hyperic, with all kinds of speculation on SpringSource’s competitive positioning, its desire to add a management component and, as we report, the importance of Hyperic’s focus on monitoring and managing applications in virtualized and cloud environments. What does not seem to be quite as prominent in the discussion of this deal between two companies we consider open source vendors is: open source software.

Sure, there are technical and cultural reasons that an acquisition and merging of the comnpanies makes sense. Both use primarily GPL-licensed open source software at the center of their offerings. Both offer a variety of proprietary extensions and enhancements in an open core model. Both started around the same time and are at similar places in their evolution along with the commercial adoption of open source. However, as we’ve seen in other cases when open source matters more on an underlying level, open source software is somewhat of an aside in the SpringSource-Hyperic acquisition.

That is not to say, however, that this deal reflects a lack of momentum for open source software, whether we’re talking enterprise Java and SpringSource or applications monitoring and management via Hyperic. Some are arguing that this acquisition represents SpringSource protecting its own viability by saving Hyperic, which is embedded in SpringSource’s products and business. However, given the growth we’ve seen at both companies and the continued acquisition strategy from SpringSource, that does not seem to be the case. As far as the contention enterprise and midmarket organizations are turning away from open source amid difficult economic conditions, we are seeing the exact opposite. The risk/benefit question on open source software is now falling down on the side of trying it out, and open source seems to be passing the test. Those who continue to forbid or resist open source are sounding more unreasonable, particularly when there are most likely parts of all organizations that already know the benefits, including cost-savings.

We believe the main drivers of the SpringSource-Hyperic acquisition and the main value here is not open source software, but rather where open source software has allowed both of these vendors to go: enterprise Java applications, virtualized and cloud computing environments in particular. The fact that these vendors are joining up in the latest virtualized and cloud environments indicates they have the right offering at the right time, and we expect the combined company will leverage this even more now.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.04.03

Topics for this podcast:

*Moblin moves from Intel to Linux Foundation
*Microsoft and TomTom settle, issues remain
*No surprise – VC funding for open source down

iTunes or direct download

No alarms and no surprises – VC funding for open source down in Q1

It should not surprise anyone that the decline in funding for open source vendors seen in the second half of the year continued into the first quarter.

According to our preliminary figures, there were just eight announced funding deals in the first quarter of 2009, compared to 22 in the first quarter of 2008.

Seven of the deals announced in the first quarter of 2009 had a disclosed size, resulting in a combined total of $45.1m, and an average deal size of $6.4m. In the same quarter of 2008 there were 20 deals with a disclosed size resulting in a combined total of $209.8m, and an average deal size of $10.5m.

    Blatant plug: This data is extracted from The 451 Group’s forthcoming CAOS report on the history and future of venture capital investment in open source vendors. The report will be published in early April and will also include a survey of investors from private investment firms, assessing their sentiment towards open source and the likely impact of economic conditions on investment in open source software-related vendors. It also identifies a list of the vendors that are most likely to be considering further funding in the next two years as well as a list of open source vendors that are best positioned for a run at an IPO in the 12-24 months after the downturn ends. More details coming soon.

However, it is somewhat unfair to compare the first quarters of 2009 and 2008. Q1 of 2008 was a record quarter and with hindsight it appears a number of vendors rushed to raise funds in anticipation of hard times ahead. We won’t really be able to put the first quarter into some kind of perspective until we see the figures for the rest of 2009.

Early stage deals announced in the first quarter included a $5m Series A round for Hadoop support provider Cloudera from Accel Partners and 13 individual investors; $4m Series A for systems management vendor RiverMuse from Trinity Ventures and Sierra Ventures; and $1.6m Series A for marketing software vendor LoopFuse from True Ventures.

Later stage deals included $12m Series C funding for Talend from Balderton Capital and AGF Private Equity; $9.5m equity and debt funding for code management vendor Black Duck from General Catalyst Partners, Fidelity Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Focus Ventures, Intel Capital, SAP Ventures, Red Hat, and Gold Hill Capital.

Meanwhile embedded systems vendor Open Kernel Labs announced $7.5m Series B funding from Chrysalis Ventures, Neo Technology Ventures, and Citrix. SEC filings also indicate that Aptana raised $5.5m in Series B funding in March.

Based on these deals it is clear that venture funding is available for both early and later stage deals if the business opportunities are right but that overall funding for open source vendors in 2009 is likely to decline considerably compared to the funding levels seen in recent years.

At the Microsoft SD Forum open source event in San Francisco last week, Larry Augustin predicted (PDF) $250m in 2009 from 30 deals. I would guess there might be a few more deals and a lower average deal size but not enough to argue about.

Coming to America

I’ll be heading over to the West coast at the end of the month for a short trip that will take in EclipseCon – including the Open Source Executive Strategy SummitOSBC, and the Open Source ISV Forum.

It promises to be a busy and interesting trip and I’m looking forward to an intensive week of meetings, discussions and briefings on the past, present and future of open source.

I have a fairly full schedule already, but if you are going to be at any of these events and are interested in arranging a meeting or just want to say hello or share a pint, drop me a line via twitter @maslett or email.

My bigger concern with Microsoft – netbooks

We’ve been having a discussion on the meaning and impact of Microsoft’s TomTom suit, and there seems to be quite a bit of suspicion and angst over Microsoft’s patent and licensing tactics. However, I believe if one wants to see the Microsoft of old, the one known for pressuring partners, undercutting competitors and generally bullying the market, the better place to find it is in the netbook market.

I’ve already written about how difficult it was to find a good selection of Linux-based netbooks, and that discussion included some suspicions that Microsoft might be acting like its old self as it tries to stem manufacturer and distributor defections from Windows XP and Vista, particularly on netbooks. I believe CAOS commentator ObiWanKenobi summed up this sentiment well:

This ‘not wanting to sell Linux’ may be the result of some ‘carrot or stick’ action from Microsoft. M$ (sic) can afford to offer some favorable conditions on Windows to sellers who agree ‘not to want to sell Linux.’ They sustain it for a while, until the competition is strangled. Then they raise the prices. This is a classical case of dumping. Waving a big stick may be even more effective. Intimidating in a subtle way does not cost them anything. Of course, nobody knows about this because it is all done secretly.

‘Not wanting to sell Linux’ manifests itself in many ways. Dell hides their Linux PCs on their web site so that you have to look for them by using Google. Netbook producers equip their creations with crippled versions of Linux which can perform only a few basic functions. Linux can be also put on a more expensive hardware version to make them look less attractive than their Windows-equipped cousins.

While Windows 7 is supposed to be a game-changer for Microsoft in netbooks, I don’t think the company is waiting for that to flex as much muscle as it can on netbooks.

Mostly, as a desktop Linux fan and proponent of customer choice, I find it disheartening and disturbing that my Linux options are severely limited for netbooks such as the Acer Aspire One, at least while I continue to reside in the U.S. If I were in Canada, my Linux options grow significantly. In the UK — fellow CAOS captain Matt Aslett has covered how the Brits are also getting in on the netbook fun, with Linux helping to keep the cost low. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. and perhaps other geographies, most models and colors available are the Windows XP versions.

I think this may indicate Microsoft’s strategy against Linux has more to do with the market than the courtroom. As I said in a response on our blog last week, I don’t doubt that the TomTom suit is really aimed at Linux because Microsoft says so. I doubt that it is a Linux attack because I don’t think Microsoft really wants to go there. Does Microsoft really want to play the challenger in SCO II? Again, I don’t think the company is up for that fight.

However, open source’s old nemesis Steve Ballmer made clear Microsoft is ready to fight in areas where the company is struggling and competing with Linux, rather than dominating it, and netbooks top the list. My own experience indicates there is an odd limit to the supply of Linux-powered netbooks in the face of demand for them. Adding insult to injury, when I requested distributors to notify when the Linux model I wanted was available, I was sent offers for netbooks with Windows XP.

It’s not all bad news, though. Consider Dell, which reports one in three of its Mini netbooks sold run Linux. This is consistent with the 30% share of netbook market maintained by Linux, according to most sources. And while I’m encouraged by manufacturers such as Dell and Asus and hardware makers such as Freescale all continuing to offer Linux netbooks and looking to the future with Linux in their arsenals, I’m very concerned to see my netbook choices limited based on OS or geography. This, to me, is most reminscent of the ‘old Microsoft,’ the one that bullies and strong-arms and entices partners and competitors through sweetheart deals and plain old anti-competitive behavior.

Some have already made a link between Microsoft’s TomTom suit and netbooks and other mobile devices. I find this more plausible than the idea that Microsoft would directly sue over alleged Linux infringements on its patents, but I still think the market, not the courtroom, is where we need to be most cautious of Microsoft’s old ways.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2008.09.26


* Essentia builds out open source community, collaboration and commercial prospects
* Untangle releases Re-Router to bring open source security software to Windows PCs, networks
* A report from the Linux Plumbers Conference in Portland, Oregon
* Google Android is out with G1 handset from HTC, T-Mobile

iTunes or direct download (35:15, 8.1MB)

LinuxWorld 2008 – nobody cares

There are certain phrases that we tend to hear a lot from vendors — ‘enterprise-class, best of breed, customer choice,’ etc. However, I was repeatedly hearing somewhat surprising phrases as I made the rounds at LinuxWorld this year: ‘We don’t care, customers don’t care, no one cares …”

Don’t get me wrong. Linux and open source have not reached the point where the software is so good, vendors and customers don’t have to care about it. The point seems to be this: there is less concern or ‘care’ about whether the operating system is Linux, Windows, Solaris or other; fewer customers care whether the software in use is open source or not; and there seems to be a general recognition that the fact a product or vendor is open source does not matter as much.

Sure, open source is still a significant differentiator. It allows vendors to get software and products into customer hands more quickly and broadly. It typically provides significant cost savings to customers. However, it is far less exotic and foreign in the enterprise, both for vendors and customers, who seem to be viewing open source not as religion, philosophy or idealism, but as just another option.

Vendors supporting various operating systems indicated there is less care about the underlying OS. Part of this can be attributed to virtualization, which allows servers and VMs running different operating systems to be managed in a unified manner. Still, even the difference between virtual and physical servers seems to be of less care to vendors, which are now moving to support and include both in their products and plans. Other vendors discussed how the use of virtual appliances and cloud computing were minimizing how much care centers on the OS, since it is becoming less visible to partners and users.

As for those users and customers, who are playing an increasingly significant role in Linux and open source, there also appears to be less care about whether software is open source. Instead, customers have come to expect comparable or superior features and functionality at less cost. Open source is often the way vendors and their products get there, but customers don’t really care.

So does all this lack of care mean that open source is in danger of losing its edge? I don’t think so. Rather, it is further testament to the continued enterprise maturation and acceptance of Linux and other open source software.

Mobile Linux – less open, less advantage

We had a feeling this might be a big year more for non-desktop Linux, particularly for mobile and embedded uses of the open source OS. This week’s deal by Finnish giant Nokia to pay more than $400m for total ownership of Symbian so it can open the OS has stoked the red hot mobile Linux and open source coals, just in time for summer BBQs.

Our Mobility Research Director Tony Rizzo says the move may help Symbian stay in the game, but he still sees challenges in shedding the ‘Nokia’s OS’ label.

Colleague and CAOS Research Director Raven Zachary believes Symbian (a storied, widely-used OS that has seen its share of market loss to Linux over recent years) may be akin to Sun Microsystems’ Solaris, which similarly saw Linux eat away at its share. I think the analogy is acurrate since in both cases, Linux (and Windows) have taken share, but the ‘older’ operating systems still remain strong in certain niches and geographies. Still, having seen many of its summer BBQ guests leave for the Linux party (a trend aided by LiMO Foundation and Google’s Android efforts), Nokia is now telling them all, ‘Hey, we’re now serving the same kind of beer at our Symbian party that they have over there with the Penguin.’

Time will tell how cool, or warm, the response is, but the Symbian as Solaris and the old proprietary OS as new open source questions also bring up a key point in the mobile Linux and open source discussion: it’s different here. Typically backed by a vendor or consortia, mobile Linux is usually less open and more pre-configured, pre-customized, etc. compared to Linux on the server. It is typically tuned and closed, as others point out, by vendors and consortia with their own objectives. Sure, it’s still flexible, modular and more accessible for developers, embedders, and application players, but this brings us to another big difference for Linux and open source in the mobile setting: the proprietary, mobile OSs are far more open than their server bretheren. They have to be for the hardware and ISVs. These differences can contributes to reducing the open advantage of Linux and open source.

Thus, I wonder whether the most open approach would have the most differentiation, impact and payoff by virtue of its adherence to true, open source development. I believe the vendor, consortia or community that can keep that open source advantage by keeping the code and development open is most likley produce innovation, growth and profit.

Nokia, which continues a significant bet on open source that also includes its $153m TrollTech acquisition from January 2008, believes it can stem Linux losses by making Symbian more open. However, I don’t think the opportunity lies in making a mobile OS that is almost as open as mobile Linux. The real p​rize, I believe, will be reserved for the OS that is more open than mobile Linux, at least in its present form(s). This could include a more open mobile Linux. When it comes to Linux or any other mobile OS, more open means more advantage.