Monday, November 28, 2011

Open source has more reasons to thank the cloud


Cloud computing has always been seen as a game-changer. If not today at-least a few years down the line Cloud is definitely gonna change the way we function. A developer, an entrepreneur, a end user and a common man will all have their own version of how the CLOUD changed their lives. But however, as the title suggests, my motivation for writing this article is completely different.

I was at the OSI days 2011 on behalf of Azri solutions, which was held at Nimhans convention center Bangalore. There were a good number of informative sessions and a few workshops which did help many attendees to get a hands on about the the technology being discussed. There we companies : big and small, developers : novice and  pros, marketing teams : strategic and in your face types, students : studious and get-swags, opinions : pro and anti. But all in all, there was a lot of activity happening(business cards being exchanged ;) ) and the awareness about Open Source was raising. Everybody there had a reason and by the end it looked like most of them were happy with the outcome of the event.



But  there was one thing that I could constantly observe behind all this hungama. The marriage of proprietary and open-source software(or their makers) and cloud was the match-maker. Be it the key-note by Gianugo Rabellino, Microsoft or the session "Using Open Source to commoditize your technology" by Gil Yehuda, Yahoo message was clear. 

Remember Gandhi's lines? First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. If we modify this quote for the current scenario it would be First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they accept you as in integral part and the world wins. 

They = Proprietary and you = Open-source

First they ignore you : They did this for too long. They behaved as if open-source didn't exist. Reason? Open-source didn't eat into their pie yet, at that time.

then they laugh at you : Yes that is exactly what they did. They called it ridiculous. They asked "Why would somebody write code for free".

then they fight you : Yes they did fight too. But not directly. They said the features sets of open-source are not exhaustive. They questioned the credibility. They cautioned about business continuity taking a hit. "Lack of support has a ripple effect across an Open Source CMS project", a Sitecore white paper pointed out (You should check out the interesting debate between site-core and Dries here).

then they accept you as in integral part : Though I consider most of the points they point out(in the last paragraph) as not true concerns, that last one is something which I feel the open-source should handle well. And that is exactly the void that proprietary software based companies like microsoft, yahoo can fill. Support is something which is number intensive and big guys can do better. Other areas which have space for collaboration are 3rd party integrations, standard compliance and security measures. These are the ways in which the open-source can benefit from biggies like microsoft and yahoo. What about the reverse direction? The inertia of bigger companies generally prevent them from innovating quickly and the need for standard compliances prevent them from embracing the newer technologies. This is where open-source can be of great help to them.

Though the above mentioned factors have been pushing for the union of proprietary and open-source for quite a few years now, the pace has picked up only recently. The reason? You guessed it right, its cloud computing. Having realized the true business potential of cloud, all the companies are pushing the concept of cloud. (Did I tell you that microsoft was giving away blue tooth handsets for registering to Azure? at #osidays ?)  Now the question still remianing.  How does cloud computing motivate the union? The answer yet again is a simple one. The very concept of cloud has led people to imagine that most of the technologies are supported in the the cloud services that they choose. If the support for proprietary softwares are not provided, the cloud computing providers have a valid reason(the licencing fee), but they have no valid reason for not supporting a open-source CMS, CRM or any software for matter as they come free. And hence naturally the users expect the support for all the major open-source software for free and for sure ;) To provide support for these softwares they need at-least a small team who are well versed with these technologies as then need to provide at-least the basic support once they are providing it in their cloud stack. And the good thing is that it doesn't stop with the small team :)


    Open source has more reasons to thank the cloud.



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