Thursday, August 30, 2012

Open Source and the Cloud

"It's important to understand that open source in this utility computing world is not a tactic, it's not a strategy, it's the only practical way of creating and competing in a marketplace"

I've been asked why the OCI principles has the phrase "and at least one such implementation must be licensed in its entirety under an Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license"

First, it's important to understand that in a utility world, any standard must be running code for reasons of semantic interoperability. In order to create a competitive market rather than a captured market this has to be open source. You can find more on my discussion of competitive markets and open source in various of my talks and posts between '06-'08. However, you'll find the basics in the OSCON 07 presentation.

By implementations this can refer to multiple providers offering the same code base or multiple providers offering different code bases. However, as long as all the implementations are "full, faithful, independent and interoperable implementations" with the open source implementation then you have a free market. The open source implementation in effect acts as the reference model.

For example, multiple Cloud Foundry providers means multiple implementations and there already exists an open source implementation in Cloud Foundry itself. Of course, providers could set up with modified versions of Cloud Foundry (e.g. operational improvements) and as long as they are full, faithful and interoperable implementations they would meet the OCI principle.

You cannot avoid the need for an open source reference model in the OCI principles. But that's because you cannot avoid the need for an open source reference model in a competitive utility computing market.

Competitive markets and Open Source are intertwined. Always have been. It's what we tried to do with Zimki all those years ago.