This is one of my favorite topics and I don’t mind revisiting the topic again and again. It is about the importance of Open Source in the cloud based world. It is never enough to re-emphasize this point and, hence, this series of posts. In my introduction to this series, I have made my argument very clear about the importance of open source in the cloud based world.
In fact, I want Richard Stallman and some others in the
Free Software world, who dismiss Cloud Computing, to realize that Open Source
(well, Free Software too) has a very important role to play in shaping the path
taken by Cloud Computing. If they embrace this concept, they can play a
significant role in ensuring that users of Cloud Computing are empowered much in
the same way they helped raise the consciousness of desktop computing users
towards open source.
The presentation from my Cloudslam ’09 talk offers compelling arguments to highlight the importance of Cloud Computing in a SaaS based world.
In my other post on the Open Source value addition in SaaS, I had pointed out to two situations where Open Source clearly adds tremendous value to the SaaS ecosystem.
- The open source adds value to the businesses in the form of collaboration. The
importance of this statement can be seen in today’s SaaS world. Cloud Computing,
in general, and SaaS, in particular, could bring down costs mainly due to the
widespread use of Open Source software in their platform stack. Vendors could
transfer the cost savings they achieve with the use of Open Source software to
customers. In turn, vendors could offer their resources to the development of
Open Source software.
- Another area where Open Source can add value in the SaaS world is in building
the confidence of the customers. There is definitely a huge risk in the SaaS
world when customers put their data on the hands of third party vendors. There
is always a possibility that a SaaS vendor can go out of business putting your
data at risk. Not only the customers have to get the data out of the outgoing
vendor, they also need to find a compatible SaaS application to keep going.
Unless the old vendor is offering an option to export the data in an open
format, the customers are in for a big trouble. Plus, many customers may want to
stick with the same application due to various reasons. This is the kind of
scenario where releasing the SaaS application as Open Source adds value to the
Well, in the posts above and, also, in some of my other posts in this blog, I had highlighted the importance of Open Source in the cloud based world. They were compelling reasons to show why the open source route is a better one to take in the Cloud world. Recently, Simon Wardley of Canonical wrote a great blog post arguing why open source is essential in the Cloud based world.
However, whilst open standards are necessary they are not sufficient in the cloud world because of the complexity involved in describing an environment (such as a platform) through a standard and even if you could describe such an environment, it would create significant barriers of implementation. The most viable mechanism of achieving the goal of an open and free market is for the standard to be implemented as an open source reference model (i.e. running code).
This is a solid argument which should easily sway those people who are contended with just the issues like open standards, open formats and open architecture ever since Tim O’ Reilly proclaimed that architecture trumps licensing anytime. Mr. Wardley talks about the infrastructure layer but open source is essential in the other parts of the SPI stack too. Especially, when we give up some control over our data to take advantage of the benefits of the clouds, the idea of open source as an essential component is something we all should take seriously.