I'm a little hesitant to even write this post. The Open Source community tends to be a little *cough* aggressive when it comes to supporting their believes and a little *ahem* vehement when it feels it's being unfairly criticised. Here at CloudAve however we've never shed away from confrontation so I'll risk their wrath and reply to the Stallman interview.
Zoli replied to some of Stallman's specific points yesterday, so I'll not reiterate what he's said other than to agree with him fully when he pull's Stallman up for somehow equating the use of proprietary software (which he obviously sees as being bad) with the use of Cloud Computing per se. They're two different things pure and simple.
I also kind-of agree with co-author Krish who has a vision where;
the vendor releases the source code of the app under one of the OSI approved licenses
I have to say kind-of because, anathema as it may be to the open-sourcies out there, I can say that I've generally had better experiences with proprietary software (be it Cloud based or installed) than with it's open source alternatives. Sure I use Firefox and love it, but I prefer Chrome (which is marginally open source it's true but since it's a Google product, leverages off the cloud and some vehement sourcies tell me it's proprietary I've included it here). I've used Thunderbird in the past, but Gmail suits me better. Google docs may be a little annoying at times but nowhere near as annoying as Open Office has proved to be for me.
All of that said, and like a much more eloquent person than me, "I have a dream". I espoused my dream just over a year ago here but it seems opportune, in light of the Stallman article, to revisit it on CloudAve.
I started off by describing what I felt where two key attributes of Open Source vs SaaS applications;
OpenSource tends to build passionate users that consider themselves, to a certain extent “owners” and “developers” of the product in question. These communities tend to be rabidly loyal and have a tendency towards evangelisation.
SaaS on the other hand tends to build networks or communities of individuals that share a commonality – be it use, interest whatever. SaaS users tend to be loyal to a point, but not nearly as loyal as Open Source-ers.
So gar so good, hopefully you'll all agree. Now that being said, isn't there an intersect of the two, where you could take all that is good about Open Source, and mix it with all the benefits that SaaS (and to a certain extent proprietary SaaS) has. As I said a year ago;
To a certain extent SaaS enterprises have attempted to create the Open Source level of community by embracing the concepts of beta-testing and user feedback and development. This however has been reasonably limited (mainly due to the fact that Open Source is free, at some point a free beta-test of a SaaS product will generally swing over to a subscription based service).
Imagine if you will a situation where a revenue generating SaaS product builds a community of such committed users that they become the salesforce, an integral part of the development team and the PR gang.
Maybe I'm being naive – although SugarCRM is, to a certain extent fulfilling this vision.
Either way, I have to contend that Stallman is just wrong – for all the reasons we espouse here – accessibility, security, ease of use Cloud Computing is a good thing and Open Sourcers, along with the general public, should not fear it.
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