3 things you don

The success of open source is supposed to be easy to measure, but here are some indicators that you may not have considered.

Video: Open source software is the future of business technology
Companies use open source code because it is useful, reliable and examined by the community. TechRepublic contributor Matt Asay explains the great reasons why open source is the future of business technology.

"Open source purity contests are not uncomfortable, they are simply boring," said Andrew Shafer and he is right. This last "contest" in question arose from the reaction of Kelly Sommers to the Amazon CTO Werner Vogels tweet complaining that Microsoft was raising the cost of running its software in rival clouds to push customers to execute workloads in Azure. Sommers' argument was not relevant to the Vogels tweet, but it nevertheless began a contentious discussion about how cloud providers like
"owes" to the open source code they monetize.

It's an abysmally tired debate, but this time he threw some interesting ideas. Here are three.

Counting taxpayers

On the one hand, measuring the value of open source is not as simple as counting lines of code. Or taxpayers. In Linux, for example, the stakeholder strategy was long to simply hire the main contributors to the Linux kernel. You could go from zero to hero simply by hiring the top 10 kernel managers, without actually doing much more than supporting their salary. This is a way to encourage open source, but hardly the best.

SEE: The emergence of Kubernetes epitomizes the transition from big data to flexible data (ZDNet)

In Redis, as another example, AWS engineering executive (and formerly engineer Red Hat) Matt Wilson noted that Redis Labs, who is currently complaining that AWS is not contributing enough, was roughly equal to AWS in terms of participation in the project until 2015: both were making money and contributing little or nothing back in terms of code. Then, Redis Labs hired Redis' maintainer, Salvatore Sanfilippo, and suddenly became a great contributor. Sanfilippo was the one who did the work, and always had been. It is good that you can now get a full-time payment for doing that job, but it is not a sign of long-term incremental participation in an open source project.

Projects worth bragging

It may not be useful to point out well-known projects as the most authentic indicator of open source sources of good faith. AWS recently released
to many industry compliments, but is that better than smaller and less visible contributions? No according to Wilson : "Personally I see much more value in multiple small, scalable, secure building block projects, compared to the extremely large ones. Combine it with a lot of funds from 501 (c) (3) Fundamentals of type and basically catapult open source through the invention of modern cloud infrastructure. "

SEE: Comparison of providers: Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud (TechRepublic Premium)

In that world, great projects are not monetized by a single provider, because that leads to them closing the code to pay the rent. By promoting important projects to foundations (as Google did with Kubernetes, transferring it to CNCF), true communities can flourish around them.

But regardless of the fundamentals, Wilson's point about smaller building block projects seems true. Large-scale projects like Firecracker are, of course, important, but smaller projects than
can be assembled to build larger projects / products that can make a big difference over time. Things like s2n, which solved the OpenSSL security problem, can have a huge and positive effect that affects the entire industry.

All are takers

However, the biggest problem with pointing this or that company for not contributing is that it is always a completely arbitrary and incorrect evaluation. Why? Because while we praise Google, for example, for its incredible contributions of
and Kubernetes, nobody seems to remember that it is the same Google that ran more than 100,000 servers using Puppet … without paying Puppet Labs a penny (and, as far as I can tell, without contributing the code).

This is not to criticize Google. The same happens in all the organizations of the planet, as Shafer indicated : "The implication of OSS [open source] is that more value will be created than the captured … [T] the imbalance is inherent … [I] I cannot think of a large company that cannot be criticized for its open source citizenship. " Even open source organizations such as Red Hat benefit dramatically more from incoming open source than what they make available as outgoing open source. It's not that companies are greedy, it's just how open source works.

SEE: 20 quick tips to facilitate the Linux network connection (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In fact, Miguel de Icaza, the developer behind the GNOME, Mono and Xamarin projects , recalls that his former company (Ximian) was almost bankrupt because Red Hat delivered its software for free. Red Hat abided by the freedoms that the open source license offered, as does AWS, Microsoft, Google and any other organization that it can name.

That is the bargain of open source.

We must take that implicit treatment into account when we discover what the future of open source is like. Lately, it has been less open, as companies increasingly close the code to earn money. But, as De Icaza has emphasized, this experimentation will probably continue: "The key here is that you can have a great product, but you may not have an ideal or viable monetization channel. All these discussions about licenses are based on the reuse of existing assets (tangible or not) to monetize the channels. "

It makes sense. But along the way, do not criticize those who take advantage of open source freedoms (each of us) while returning much less than we give (each of us).

See also


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