I am an unabashed sucker of Google Wave (see previous CloudAve coverage) and the two reasons for its demise are
- Mainstream users had difficulty seeing the value in Google Wave as a collaboration and communication platform
- Google didn’t flex its muscle enough to push it down the throat of users and make them see the value in it
Anyhow, Google’s loss is a gain for Open Source.
I have been vigorously promoting the idea of Open Source as the SaaS Endgame and Google Wave offers yet another example for the value of such a move. Responding to my post about how Open Source as a SaaS endgame will let the app have a life after death, Matthew Aslett of 451 Group made an important point about open source software living dead due to lack of interest among the developers.
with open source there is life after death – if there is a committed group of developers prepared to put in the effort to keep the project alive. For many open source projects that’s a pretty big “if”.
This is a valid point and, but, as I told in my follow up post, I don’t see an open source endgame as a way to let the SaaS app flourish after being abandoned by the original developer but I see it as the best possible opportunity to let someone with time and/or money to resuscitate the app and let it stay for those who need it badly. I see it as a way to ensure business continuity for their customers and a way for SaaS vendors to build trust.
After its demise, Google open sourced Google Wave as Wave in a Box for people to either install it on premise or in the cloud. Even though I was excited about the move, I also listed out the challenges in my post.
- We have to see a strong group of developers (volunteers and developers working on the ecosystem projects) who will actively work on the project and keep advancing it to the next levels
- We have to see a strong user base for the platform. The main reason for Google to shut down Google Wave is the lack of traction among the users. If a hosted platform supported by Google couldn’t gain traction, I am not sure how it will gain any traction when users are required to host it on their own servers. Unless the project doesn’t gain users, we won’t be seeing much interest among developers to contribute to it
- The only other way to ensure a life after death is when one or more commercial vendors adopt Wave platform and offer it as a hosted multi-tenant solution. They will definitely have the passionate users who are clamoring for the resurrection of Google Wave and they could gain further traction by avoiding the mistakes of Google. A more user friendly Wave platform will definitely attract more users. There is clearly a business opportunity here but I am not entirely sure how many will be interested in this after seeing Google give it up
Clearly, the concern was about getting the necessary core team of developers to keep the project going. Even though the developer interest is linked to the interest among the users, I have a strong feeling that Google Wave will eventually get into the imagination of mainstream users and gain traction. The immediate need for Wave in the Box to have a life after death instead of living dead is strong support from the developer community.
Today, The Register has a news article that talks about Apache Software Foundation taking Wave in the Box project as an incubator project. The reasoning for the move is to ensure the continuity of the project as Apache Software Foundation is in a better position to nurture the project than anyone else I can think of.
Those submitting WIAB said their immediate goals are to migrate the Wave code base off its current home on code.google.com and integrate it with Apache’s management and build systems, to “quickly” reach a position where it’s possible to continue development of WIAB, and to also add new committers to the project. The code.google.com site was due to be turned off by Google at the end of the year.
Already, there are many developers from Novell, SAP, US Navy, etc. working on the existing code. By moving to Apache Incubator, the project will see continued development and get more new committers.
This is a fantastic news for Wave in the Box project. Yes, the project still has to clear many hurdles before it can live again after death. Yes, it should attract developers and users. Yes, it should clear the legal hurdles before Apache can establish it as a full fledged project. But there is hope because Apache Foundation is putting their muscle behind the efforts to revive this project. It means a lot to the future of Wave in the Box project. If it pulls off, as I expect it to do in future, this will be the greatest validation to my thesis “Open Source as a SaaS Endgame”. What do you think?
- ovigia: Google Wave to become Apache project – The H Open Source: News and Features (h-online.com)
- Google Wave Gets a Second Life from Apache (pcworld.com)
- Apache Software Foundation Adopts Google Wave (techie-buzz.com)
- Google Wave gets a second life from Apache (infoworld.com)
- Apache open sourcers welcome Google’s unwanted Wave (theregister.co.uk)
- Apache open sourcers welcome Google’s unwanted Wave (go.theregister.com)
- Google Wave May Become an Apache Project (pcworld.com)
- Google Wave looks set to be rescued by Apache (downloadsquad.switched.com)
- Open Source As A SaaS Endgame: Google Wave’s Rebirth And Its Future (cloudave.com)