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Are Open Source and Cloud Computing anachronistic enemies? You’d think so, if you read GNU creator Richard Stallman’s interview in The Guardian:
Cloud computing was simply a trap aimed at forcing more people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that would cost them more and more over time.
"It's stupidity. It's worse than stupidity: it's a marketing hype campaign,"
Sure, there’s a lot of marketing hype as it is typical with any major technological advancement, especially as it reaches the peak of its hype cycle. But I think Stallman loses sight of who the “enemy” is:
One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control, it's just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else's web server, you're defenceless. You're putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.
I’m sorry, but proprietary vs. open source has nothing to do with on-site (your computer) vs. on-demand (“cloud”). I bet over 90% of my readers have some form of proprietary software on their own computers – and of course they have the choice of open source, too. Software as a Service does not necessarily equate to proprietary software, either. My fellow author, Krish, is both a Cloud and Open Source evangelist, in fact he just recently cited Open Source as a strong personal preference when selecting Cloud Computing providers:
Open source: This is a long shot and it is based entirely on my personal beliefs. I will feel very confident if the vendor releases the source code of the app under one of the OSI approved licenses. Apart from the actual benefits of Open source, I can also be sure that I will still be able to use the app even if the cloud vendor goes out of business. WordPress, Wikidot, Deki Wiki, etc. are examples of cloud based apps available as open source.
So you can clearly have open source in the cloud, claiming otherwise is nothing but a smoke-screen. That said, let me just silently remark that I am not absolutely against proprietary software when it comes reasonably pricing, along with dependable support, continued development and robust availability.
The Guardian adds:
…his comments echo those made last week by Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, who criticized the rash of cloud computing announcements as "fashion-driven" and "complete gibberish".
But the technology of utility computing, unlike the hype about the cloud, will continue on its appointed course, and, no doubt Larry Ellison will be there at the appropriate time to ensure that Oracle milks the utility model for whatever profits it can churn out. Oracle is the giant cockroach of the IT business – it thrives under any conditions. That's because Oracle, though based in Silicon Valley, is not of the Valley. Ellison long ago came to understand one of the fundamental truths about the corporate IT business: there's more money to be made in exploiting old technology than in pioneering new technology. Hedge your bets, bide your time until the cash begins to flow, then make your move.
A few months ago, Oracle announced that, with its software-as-a-service business growing at nearly a 25% a year clip, it was breaking ground on a big new data center in Utah to help power its web apps. And at the very same conference at which Ellison went on his anti-cloud rant, Oracle announced an extensive partnership with Amazon Web Services to incorporate Oracle products into the Amazon cloud.
Very well said. I might just add that other than Mothership Oracle itself, Ellison is still majority owner of NetSuite, a pure-play SaaS provider. He can poke fun all he wants, but will cash in when the time is right.
Update: Others "get it", too. Here's Silicon Alley Insider on the subject:
different visions of the future. Oracle's Ellison is selling cloud
computing products and poking fun at his own marketing. Stallman is
opposed to the cloud because he thinks it locks users into proprietary,
non-open source software. Guess which one is a billionaire?