Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hi Ho Silver Lining

Having a plan to create a federated market based upon a common open source reference model is not something new - it's a pretty common idea (the presentation linked above, I gave in 2007 and it wasn't a new concept then). But having a plan is not enough, execution matters.

In the platform space, Cloud Foundry seems to be leading that charge. They've even recently released a Cloud Foundry Core which enables them to provide users with some level of assurance between the different Cloud Foundry providers. This is all good stuff and yes there is competition with Google App Engine combined with the open source AppScale. However the approach of VMware towards creating a marketplace is enlightened in my view. They've got a good shot at making a large competitive market happen.

In the infrastructure space, the road has been more rocky with lots of mis-steps. However, I'm fairly bullish about CloudStack. Their focus on not differentiating with AWS but instead co-opting (which is fairly uniformly what I hear customers ask for, an AWS clone) combined with its membership of the ASF and the release of CloudStack 4.0 are all positives in my view. It bodes well for the future assuming they can grow and build a vibrant community.

The technology is also used in production in various places (30,000+ servers cited in one case), ISPs are coming online ... again, all good stuff. By not differentiating they also buy themselves time in the expected AWS vs GCE war as they can grow a large and vibrant ecosystem around the AWS ecosystem. Ultimately, if they can grow fast enough they might even exceed it. They have competition (Eucalyptus, OpenNebula, OpenStack etc) in this space but CloudStack seem to be taking a good shot at making this market happen.

Back in OSCON 2007 when I gave my keynote on federated markets and open source, I was concerned that these future industries would be dominated by proprietary environments.  Companies had to pick up the idea of building federated markets around open source, they had to start working together and they had to execute.  With projects like CloudFoundry and CloudStack, I'm less so concerned these days for the long term.  Both projects seem to understand where they need to go and neither has made a serious mis-step (e.g. failing to open source, going down an open core route, differentiating when they shouldn't, trying to be all things to all people, confused messaging on focus,  major losses in community, unchecked issues around a collective prisoner dilemma). 

They're both playing a reasonably good game, backed by well funded companies and are executing with a vision of creating a market in my opinion. For me, they are the silver lining in a cloud that at one point threatened a dark future for open source and consumers alike. This makes me happy - as in closer to 3 rules happy.