This question was pondered by a panel of experts at Structure 2011 on Wednesday. Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace led the discussion around OpenStack, Open Compute and Cloud Foundry projects, why they exist and how they can be monetized by their sponsor companies.
As for the “why open source?” question, the panel agreed that the model has proven successful, as demonstrated by the success of Linux over the last 20 years.
VMware CTO, Derek Collison posited that for cloud computing to advance technologically, use of open source is a must.
“The open source movement is required for the cloud,” he said, explaining that the transparency and no vendor lock-in desire is helped by open source. When people find out it’s open source, they relax about committing to a vendor. And really, cloud computing is too big a problem—and opportunity– for a company or small set of companies to handle. Cloud requires the industry to collaborate.
The shift from making money on intellectual property to a model where some core components are freely available isn’t a huge hurdle for companies, they just need to focus on adding value in order to make money.
“Customers will pay for the innovation from the product or service – there are many different ways to add value,” said Forrest Norrod, VP and GM of server platforms at Dell. “This will disrupt some of the models. [But] the industry will find ways to monetize and add value.”
Collison said that while everyone wants to be in a public cloud, “very few people are willing to walk to the deep end of the pool.” The difficulty in setting up and maintaining distributed systems is something VMware is looking to capitalize on with their cloud services packages, alleviating the IT teams from getting caught up in all of that work.
Adapting to fill these needs is necessary, or the open model could threaten the long-term economics of companies such as VMware and Dell which derive most of their revenue through software sales tied to intellectual property said Norrod.
“If we don’t offer value above and beyond what’s completely commoditized in the standard, then we’re in trouble,” he said. “It can be product value based on IP, it could be service value or just support services. We have to adapt and continue to seek out value-add or we will become irrelevant.”
And building an open source project isn’t cheap. Moorman, whose company sponsors OpenStack, said “it’s a lot of work to run a community – it’s a big investment. We’re spending a lot of money to get input and contributors.”
The experts agreed that their involvement and sponsorship of the open source cloud projects has been costly, but worth it, to their companies, and to the industry as a whole.
Leah Rosin is Site Editor at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com. Follow us on Twitter!
The early registration email to SUSE customers proclaims:
SUSE will have a dedicated and significant presence at BrainShare with participation in the keynotes, and with its own demo area in the IT Central, as well as its own conference session category with special Linux and Open Source session tracks. All components of the SUSE Business Unit (including the Enterprise Linux Server related business, the SUSE Studio/Appliance part, and the openSUSE project) will be presented to BrainShare attendees.
If I were a SUSE customer, I think I’d be trying harder than usual to get my boss to spring for sending me after all the changes that have occurred this year. Attachmate will be judged by its performance at this show, and I think the future of SUSE depends on it. I know that after my discussion with Nils Braukmann, SUSE president and general manager, I had some remaining questions about the future of the operating system and future technical innovation.
What do you want to hear from SUSE? Are you planning to attend BrainShare 2011?]]>
The “donation” of the code to ASF was met coolly by The Document Foundation (TDF), the organization of developers that spun off LibreOffice in September 2010 from OpenOffice in response to Oracle’s handling of the project, including the decision to charge for the previously free Open Document Format plugin that allowed interoperability between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office suite. TDF lists its supporters, which include most of the big names in Linux: Red Hat, Canonical, Novell, Google and more.
TDF issued a statement, explaining that this move was not all they had hoped for:
The Document Foundation would welcome the reuniting of the OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects into a single community of equals in the wake of the departure of Oracle. The step Oracle has taken today was no doubt taken in good faith, but does not appear to directly achieve this goal. The Apache community, which we respect enormously, has very different expectations and norms – licensing, membership and more – to the existing OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects. We regret the missed opportunity but are committed to working with all active community members to devise the best possible future for LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org.
This move by Oracle doesn’t seem to be as “open” claim in its press materials on the matter, and TDF’s grumblings won’t go unnoticed by the open source community. One of the key hang-ups is the change of software licensing under Apache. Previously, OpenOffice code was licensed under the GPL, LGPLv3 and MPL. Under Apache’s license, modifications to the code do not need to be given back, which contrasts with the previous licensing versions.
Notably, IBM is supporting the move, and Bob Sutor has issued his own analysis and reaction on his blog.
More on OpenOffice and ASF
Oracle watchers speculate on future of OpenOffice
ASF Incubator: What does that mean?]]>