Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A slight drizzle ...

There has been a lot of noise created recently about the downtime in GMail and the issues this has caused. Alan Patrick posts about how this is "pouring rain on the cloud computing parade".

Let's be clear, this is a minor hiccup compared to the potential black swan event that could occur. We desperately need some resolution on the issues of portability and interoperability between different providers for what are, after all, ubiquitous activities.

I've argued many times for the need for open sourced standards at different levels of the software stack as it moves from a product to a service based economy. These arguments are based upon the concepts and dangers caused by a lack of second sourcing. I've also argued that many technology vendors (except the most enlightened) are unlikely to shift willingly to a service based world without trying to maximise their position through lock-in.

In the past, the usual response I received was that this would limit innovation and competition. This has never been true, as innovation in the service world should be in operations and not product differentiation. Competition can be created by encouraging operational excellence whilst maintaining a standard reference model, hence my argument for AGPL as the ideal license. Whilst some agree with such a view, few are willing to accept that business consumers need to form associations to push vendors towards open sourced standards.

If you want interoperability and portability, you're almost certainly going to have to fight for it.

For those who haven't seen my talk from OSCON last year, I thought I'd re-post it here. It covers some of the basics.

Oscon talk, July 2007