Open source ushers mobile OS changes

The year is starting out with what may turn out to be significant changes in the mobile operating system market, with open source software playing a significant role just as it has in enterprise software, virtualization and cloud computing.

With fading heavyweights and interesting new challengers, there are changes afoot in the mobile OS market, but we must first acknowledge the market today is still mainly a duopoly of Apple with iOS and Samsung with Android.

However, if we look back five years, we see how dramatically the mobile OS landscape has changed. Given the pace of today’s device and application development and support, as well as users from consumers to the enterprise, we can expect similarly dramatic changes in the coming months and years.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.12.16

Topics for this podcast:

*Hadoop roundup
-Cloudera Enterprise Hadoop update
-Hadapt combines Hadoop with db analytics
-Informatica grows its Hadoop work
*HP open sources WebOS
*The GPL fade
*Red Hat acquisition targets

iTunes or direct download (31:41, 5.4MB)

451 CAOS Links 2011.12.14

Jive goes public. webOS goes open source. Cloud Foundry goes .NET. And more.

# Jive Software started IPO at $12 a share, closing the day up nearly 30%.

# HP announced that it plans to release webOS under an open source license. Details are thin on the ground, although Fedora is reportedly an inspiration. Joel West’s post pretty much summed up my thoughts.

# Tier 3 announced that it has created Iron Foundry, and open source .NET Framework implementation of Cloud Foundry.

# Xeround raised $9m funding for its MySQL-as-a-service cloud database.

# Microsoft released the Windows Azure SDK for Node.js as open source and made available a preview of the Apache Hadoop on Windows Azure, amongst a slew of other open source-related announcements.

# Red Hat, Canonical, Cisco, IBM, Intel, NetApp, and SUSE created the oVirt project, based around Red Hat’s Enterprise Virtualization technology for managing KVM environments.

# Nuxeo announced the availability of Nuxeo Platform 5.5.

# Joyent launched its SmartMachine Appliance for MongoDB.

Red Hat announced JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform 5.2 and JBoss Operations Network 3.0.

# Novell announced the availability of Novell Open Enterprise Server 11.

# Couchbase claimed thousands of open source deployments and 150 commercial deployments, but has rethought its product line-up for 2012, having “confused the heck” out of potential users in 2011.

# Univention released Univention Corporate Server 3.0.

# SuccessBricks announced that its ClearDB distributed MySQL-based database service is now available through Heroku.

# Ember.js is the new name for the SproutCore 2.0 JavaScript framework.

# HEnrik Ingo examined the recent spate of MySQL authentication plug-ins.

WebOS and the open alternative live another day

There has been no shortage of reaction to HP’s move to make the Linux-based WebOS open source software. Below, I offer some of my thoughts on the meaning for the different players affected.

*What’s it mean for WebOS?
Moving WebOS to open source was best option for HP. It retains some value in the software depending on its involvement. It is also the best fate for the code, rather then being sold or simmered to its IP and patent value or even used as another weapon in the ongoing mobile software patent wars. Still, the move comes amid huge developer and consumer uncertainty for WebOS. Nevertheless, at least WebOS was already in the market with a compelling products, the Palm the Pre, in the modern smartphone market. WebOS will hopefully have a faster path to open source than Symbian since the former is based on Linux. I still think the greatest opportunity for WebOS may be in serving as an open alternative in the market, particularly after Android has proven to handset makers, wireless carriers, OEMs and others that a Linux-based, open source mobile OS can succeed in the market and provide profit for multiple parties. Furthering this opportunity, WebOS may be even more attractive to these key vendors, channel players and other stakeholders who are tired of the IP and patent stress and expense around Android. Of course, Android was not under patent or IP attack until it was successful in the market and the same may be the case for WebOS, though we think its IP roots and history in touch and smartphone technology are less complex in terms of origin and ownership.

*What’s it mean for competitors?
For Apple, an open source WebOS means more market pressure and open pressure, more competition for developers and a real danger WebOS hooks into the Android ecosystem. WebOS may also be harder to attack from a patent and IP standpoint since it is older and more singular in ownership (Palm and now HP). Other factors include HP’s own formidable patent portfolio and the perception of Apple as a patent aggressor, which would be reinforced if it attacked WebOS the way it has gone after Android.

For Android, it may finally get a dose of its own open medicine, feeling the pressure of another Linux-based, open source mobile OS that is familiar to many developers, compatible with newer smartphone technologies and appealing to handset makers and other key OEMs. However, WebOS is also a validation of Android, which paved the path for mobile Linux and open source to finally break through beyond geeks to reach a mass consumer audience.

As for other proprietary players such as Microsoft and RIM, another open source rival is bad news. It presents another open source option and potentially serious competition on developers, applications, devices, carriers and consumers. An open source WebOS may also make Android, in effect, more open with faster, easier access to code for both Android and WebOS compete. This could make it even harder for these older, proprietary players to get developer or consumer mind share that is already slipping.

*What’s it mean for open source? Really, there is no downside for open source except that it will be viewed as a form of software cemetery if WebOS is not developed or delivered to market. HP’s WebOS move does give open source greater prominence in mobile software. Again, it is a validation of Android, which is Linux-based and open source, and shows that we haven’t seen the last of mobile Linux and open source software in Android.

The rise, fall and reality of commercial open source

We’ve been writing ourselves about the move toward more permissive licensing in commercial open source, as well as a lessening of the use of ‘open source’ as an identifier or differentiator. We’ve also seen others comment on a perceived loss of significance and importance of free and open source software and open standards. Combine this all with some typical observation on the lack of contribution back to open source software projects, and it might appear that open source software is a once-mighty empire in the midst of decline. However, from my perspective it seems despite all of this, open source software has never before been as pervasive, disruptive and innovative as it is right now. While we have yet to reach open nirvana, open source software is playing a pivotal role in the two most significant software markets currently: cloud computing and mobile computing.

Much of the gloom and doom in open source software the last couple of years has centered on the evil that is ‘open core,’ yet I have been among those contending that open core and the mixing of open source and proprietary models is often something that customers want. In addition, rather than just a matter of converting much or all that open source community goodness to cold hard cash, I believe all of these trends and perspectives support the idea that open source software is actually gaining in significance. Whether it is viewed as an effective marketing mechanism may be another thing, but the fact that open source is prevalent in the two hottest categories of IT today: cloud computing and mobile devices.

We’ve written extensively about open source software’s prevelance in cloud computing. We’ve also covered how the many, critical open source pieces of cloud computing stacks, whether SaaS, IaaS or PaaS, are also having an impact on openness and discussions of it, something we also see when considering recent partnerships and a changing landscape for Linux and open source software.

We’ve also covered the significance and prevalence of open source software in mobile computing. At the same time, we recognized that while open source software was a key ingredient to most if not all mobile software platforms and application ecosystems, there was a lack of open source software reaching end products and users.

In both cases, there are reasons and incentives for ‘going closed,’ so to speak, but it is the true open source efforts that elicit true community benefits: collaboration, transparency, speed, flexibility, security and more. So while open source as a term or identifier may not be what matters most to vendors or customers, there is no question open source is key to the business and future of many, if not most vendors in cloud and mobile computing. Ask Puppet Labs or Chef sponsor Opscode whether open source matters to their customers and their business. Ask Google whether openness is something they consider as they move forward on Android and Chrome. Ask Rackspace whether open source is critical in its open source cloud computing stack, OpenStack. Ask HP whether it is meaningful that WebOS is open source. I have. It is. So the next time we hear about the surrender, retreat, fade or decline of open source software or its importance in today’s computing landscape, just remember that today’s key markets tell a different story.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.11

Novell-Attachmate deal delayed. Microsoft re-thinks Marketplace license demands. And more.

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

# Novell’s sale to Attachmate has been delayed until at least April 12, due to concerns related to patent sale.

# Microsoft said it will allow EPL and MPL applications on its Marketplace app store.

# Savio Rodrigues discussed open source and app stores – where they mix and where they don’t.

# Clustercorp raised $3m from Anthem Venture Partners and Avalon Ventures.

# Red Hat released JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.1.

# SourceForge quietly released its underlying code under the Apache license.

# Cfengine and C12G Labs partnered on automatic creation and management of virtualized data center and cloud environments.

# HP CEO said every PC shipped by HP starting next year will include WebOS, as well as Windows.

# Ingres launched SkySafe, a new cloud-based managed database service.

# Ubuntu Netbook Edition is being folded into Ubuntu.

# Panasonic joined the Linux Foundation.

Apple, Google and the open alternative

Say what you will about Google, its open source software use, its perspective on openness or its lack of openness in some cases (and as evidenced by the links, I have), but the company deserves some credit for being — like it or not — the ‘open alternative.’ In addition to its contributions of code, developers and support to open source, Google also gets credit as the biggest, toughest ‘open’ badge wearer. Regardless of how open it is or is not, at least we have a formidable software and technology company carrying the mantle of the open alternative.

Take Android as an example. Although we continue to hear developer and vendor concerns about its openness, including recent reports it is not continuing in mainline Linux kernel development, Android continues to present the biggest challenge to Apple’s iPhone, both in terms of actual market penetration and buzz. While Android has its limitations in terms of openness, it continues to put pressure on Apple to be more open itself, particularly with its development process and application store. Much in the same way enterprise open source software vendors have put pressure on proprietary competitors to lower prices, improve support and quality, I believe Android is similarly keeping pressure on Apple to respond to concerns about its closed, controlled approach.

Now the discussion has turned to Apple’s recently announced iPad tablet device. As I indicated, I expected some type of open source response, most likely from an existing technology or effort. Where is the open alternative coming from? Again, it appears it is Google, this time with Chrome. Had it been proposed, announced or rumored before Apple’s iPad, a tablet from Google might not seem very open at all in terms of developer and partner access to source code and other aspects. However, when it sits alongside Apple’s announcement and strategy, it again becomes the open alternative.

Whatever Apple comes up with, it seems Google or somebody else or a band of competitors such as the Open Handset Alliance are ready and willing to come up with something in response. In order to make it cost-effective, fast, brandable and developer-friendly, the response also involves open source software.

This is a theme we highlighted in our CAOS special report, Mobility Matters. Part of the reason we saw real traction for mobile Linux, particularly Android, after previous false starts for mobile Linux and open source software was the array of hardware and handset makers, third-party software vendors, wireless carriers, advertising outfits and others that were all similarly focused on their iPhone response: the open alternative.

True, the concerns and issues around Android’s openness, or lack thereof, have significant implications. This is further illustration of how Google may be the open alternative juxtaposed against Apple, but by adding its own strings and closures, Google is also leaving the door open for another, more open alternative. Perhaps Palm and its WebOS are an example, but again, it seems no matter what a company or consortium does, they still leave opportunity for a relatively more open alternative.

It begs the question of how open is open enough? The answer inevitably varies for developers, consumers, vendors and enterprises, but it appears open alternatives will continue to serve as competition and counterbalance to closed technology and strategy and this is a good thing.

451 CAOS Links 2010.01.08

Google unveils the Nexus One. RMS explains his position on dual licensing. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

For the latest on Oracle’s acquisition of MySQL via Sun, see Everything you always wanted to know about MySQL but were afraid to ask

# Google launched the Nexus One Android phone.

# Richard Stallman explained his position on selling exceptions to the GNU GPL.

# Novell’s chief technology and strategy officer for open source, Nat Friedman, left the company.

# Dirk Riehle made “The Economic Case for Open Source Foundations”.

# InformationWeek published an interview with Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst, on the recession, virtualization and Steve Ballmer.

# Lenovo introduced the Lenovo Skylight, a Linux- and ARM-based smartbook device and showcased the IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook, which is both a Windows notebook and a Linux tablet.

# The Palm webOS developer program is now open. Membership fee waived for developers of open source apps.

# Dave Rosenberg speculated on why we have not seen more open source acquisitions.

# MSI and Novell announced the upcoming availability of SUSE Moblin preloaded on the MSI U135 netbook.

# Lucid Imagination released its LucidWorks Certified Distribution for Solr 1.4.

# Acquia announced that it grew to 400 paying customers in 2009.

# Jaspersoft’s CEO, Brian Gentile, targetted 50% growth in 2010, following 60% in 2009.

# Andy Updegrove reviewed the CodePlex Foundation’s progress, while Sam Ramji reflected on its first 120 days.

# Wipro joined the Open Handset Alliance.

# WaveMaker claimed to have doubled annual revenues and achieved profitability in 2009.

# Likewise predicted at least 100% sales growth in 2010.

Open source software and the need for speed

We’ve been spending the week at the 451 Group’s 4th Annual Client Conference and speaking to vendors, investors and end users to get their latest perspectives on what is driving open source software in the enterprise.

One consistency among all of these different groups who produce, invest in, provide and use open source software is that while the typical open source advantages of cost and flexibility are still very significant, the biggest driver at the moment appears to be speed.

I think I first began noticing the importance and prominence of development and deployment speed in mobile open source software. As discussed at our client conference panel on the topic, we see hardware manufacturers, device players, wireless carriers and others all looking to mobile Linux and open source software to respond to Apple’s iPhone, which has also served to prove that a ‘non-mobile’ vendor can quickly and effectively stake a claim in the mobile market. These organizations realize that producing their own new operating system from scratch is neither realistic nor pragmatic, given the time and investment it would take. These companies are, however, looking to mobile Linux and open source software as a way to use existing, stable software as the basis for their own branded software and services. Examples include Google and Android, Palm’s WebOS, LiMO and Symbian, which is now being open sourced by Nokia and other backers that are part of the Symbian Foundation. The fact that we have gone from bascially one single Android smartphone in the market a year ago to the cavalcade of Android devices now arriving in various forms from different vendors is indicative of the speed at which open source software can move.

Throughout my conversations with folks attending our event, I’ve heard the speed theme again in other sectors and segments. Of course, application development is a fast-moving proposition, so again, we see vendors looking to open source software as a tool that can shorten their time to market. Again, cost of development, flexibility, customization, lock-in all loom as factors in favor of open source, but the single biggest driver again comes down to speed.

We’ve also seen speed as a factor for building and providing cloud computing infrastructure. Vendors report that Linux is ideal for cloud construction since the availability of source code means that unecessary pieces can be relatively easily and quickly cut out of the OS. In addition, we continue to see a blending of roles between software developer and system administrator/operations. The rise of the devops is also indicative of the need for speed. Developers are pushing to get software released and vetted. Administrators that might otherwise resist cloud computing or other models that may cause some concern about keeping their jobs are being forced to embrace cloud computing anyway. Why? The answer, again, is speed.

Open source is obviously often viewed as a part of agile development and more effective software development, as well as distribution. As the pressure to keep up in mobile, cloud computing and elsewhere continues to build, it will be interesting to see how far open source software’s speed advantages will take it.