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Open Source Facing a Difficult Battle For Cloud Relevance 141

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the someone-get-a-rock-and-a-sling dept.
A recent eulogy for open source's relevance to cloud computing by Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady caught the attention of Matt Asay, who breaks down the difficulty of this David and Goliath problem. "In a world where horsepower matters more than the software feeding those 'horses,' in terms of the entry cost to compete, and where big vendors like Amazon and Google are already divvying up the market, the odds of a small-fry, open-source start-up challenging 'Goliath' are slim. It's not a new argument: Nick Carr has been suggesting for some time that only a few, big companies can afford relevance in this hardware-intensive business. Given this fact, O'Grady thinks the best we can hope for (and he thinks it's pretty important) is 'a loose coalition or confederation of [open-source] projects and vendors that will together comprise an increasingly viable top to bottom alternative to some of the cloud providers today.' He includes projects like Puppet (Reductive Labs) and Hadoop in this mix, but is careful to point out that he doesn't see a full-fledged, open-source alternative seriously challenging the closed platforms of Google, Amazon, Salesforce, and the other mega-clouds."
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Open Source Facing a Difficult Battle For Cloud Relevance

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  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday July 03, 2009 @02:58PM (#28574067) Homepage

    But if open-source can hit the bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

  • Crybaby (Score:5, Informative)

    by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:01PM (#28574091)
    Really, is this situation THAT MUCH different from what we have today?? What are the chances of a small mom-and-pop start up create a virtual bookstore to rival Amazon, or an Internet services infrastucture empire to rival Google??
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mjasay (1141697)
      That's the point (read the full article). We keep expecting open source to topple old hegemonies, but the reality is that it's simply helping to create them (Google) and keep them in check (everyone, including Google). That's a very important role, but it's not the BigCo Destroyer role we too often assign to open source.
      • Re:Crybaby (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:28PM (#28574313) Journal
        There's one big huge flawed premise in the article. Free software has already established its relevance. It is the cloud computing concept that has yet to establish its relevance. Even if it does, which is questionable, if it does so by using virtualization of commodity hardware, then the question of what software is being run in the cloud is irrelevant, because all of it will do so. If you are renting computer cycles, the ability to pare things down to the bare bones and tweak the internals is more relevant than ever, which gives the edge in such an environment to open source software. If the question is, what is the group using to operate their cloud, the answer is, who cares? May as well ask the farmer what brand of tractor he uses... it's irrelevant.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Adm.Wiggin (759767)
          ...but I only eat vegetables and fruits that were cultivated lovingly by John Deere! What else could be more relevant?!
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by SaDan (81097)

          This guy is right on the money.

          Consider this as well: If you are with an organization that is scaling into the cloud, and needs to fire up a couple hundred server instances a few times a year to handle the load, would you rather fire up an open source operating system and related free applications (LAMP, or whatever), or would you rather fire up a couple hundred server instances that required licensing for the OS and software? Would you like to manage the additional overhead of the proprietary systems/sof

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by the_womble (580291)

        Since when is the point of open source was to kill big companies. That sounds like the sort of thing MS would say ("its communist").

        Surely Google, Amazon and others use open source, so we are talking about one open source vendor based platform competing against another. The question then becomes, can open source somehow magically make the economies of scale involved in running infrastructure disappear, at which point the question answers itself.

        • You're a wise person.

          And in both cases they build their cloud solutions on open source. Amazon EC2 offered Linux first and then Windows at a 25% higher cost. So, isn't Open Source competing very well?

      • by Korin43 (881732)
        It seems like they're trying to compare a software company to software. Open source projects can't compete with Google because they're just pieces of software. The real comparison is between companies that use open source and companies that don't, and like they mentioned in the summary, Google uses open source.
  • by Punto (100573) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `botnup'> on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:05PM (#28574115) Homepage

    should be "Cloud computing facing a difficult battle for Relevance"

    • but these are *mega* clouds

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The forecast is "Clear sky's ahead".

      Cloud computing is like the net pc. A big deal until everyone realizes is not.
  • Cloud computing is inefficient, expensive, sensitive to outages, and is vulnerable to all sorts of new types of security issues. Why do we need this again?
    • by rishistar (662278) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:08PM (#28574143) Homepage

      Now you come to mention it, we do already have all that in Windows.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Suiggy (1544213)
      I think cloud computing will be forever stuck in the realm of casual consumers and enterprise. Someone who purchases a $100-$400 netbook and browses the web will probably be the primary demographic here. And for large businesses, they'll have their own enterprise-wide cloud computing solution. This is really just a web-savvy interface on top of the traditional mainframe infrastructure. For those of us who have been computing for some time now, or require absolute control over our privacy and security, we'l
    • by eln (21727) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:19PM (#28574229) Homepage
      I really don't understand the long-term value proposition of running your stuff on a public cloud. I can, however, see the IT cost advantages of a properly automated internally managed cloud for internal IT needs. You can get more efficient utilization of hardware and easier administration using virtual servers in a cloud configuration. Of course, there are open source solutions for that, so I'm not sure where the notion that open source can't compete in this area is coming from. Hell, many of the software solutions for this sort of thing are based on the open source Xen these days.

      "Cloud" has been, in many venues, too narrowly defined as being "outsourcing to someone else's cloud", when in fact if you already have an IT department that already manages your servers in house, you can probably get more bang for your buck building your own cloud and converting your existing servers to virtual machines running on it.

      It's also incredibly dangerous to say the amount of horsepower you have is the most important thing for cloud computing. The most important part of the cloud is the automation and management software. If either of those two things are inadequate, the cloud will be inadequate and very expensive to maintain. The software is the key to a successful cloud implementation. The end result of a successful cloud implementation should be more efficient use of hardware and more efficient and easier administration, resulting in an overall reduction in cost. If the software pieces aren't in place, you won't reach those goals.
      • by dkf (304284)

        I really don't understand the long-term value proposition of running your stuff on a public cloud.

        The big value propositions are this: Reduced spend on datacenters, and increased flexibility.

        It costs a shitload of cash (which might or might not be similar in size to a fuckton of cash) to put together and operate a datacenter. In particular, the costs of the building, the power and the cooling are really large. A well-designed deployment can cut these costs dramatically, but that's hard to do right. Why do it yourself when you can pay for someone else's expertise and get what you really want (storage, co

    • cloud computing doesn't have a clear definition, but if we are talking about things like big table and map reduce then it certainly isn't inefficient in a big picture way. It basically breaks down like this. If the data set you are working with can be handled by a single machine then that will always be more efficient, but if you know that your data set is too large for that then things like hadoop are a much better approach, and more efficient, than the traditional methods.
      • I would agree it is poorly defined. I recently saw a talk by someone from IBM and he basically said. Cloud Computing is the successor to Grid computing. I think of it in those terms and it works for me.
    • Cloud Computing is cheap, and there are ways of dealing with the security issues. [infoconcepts.com]
    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Why do we need this again?

      For all the badly written commercial software that's too slow to run on one machine yet too expensive to leave enough budget for a real cluster.

  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:08PM (#28574133)
    Aren't those vendors built on top of open source? If I remember correctly, Google uses their own Linux distribution, Amazon uses redhat, and I have no clue what salesforce uses but I imagine that it's probably some form of open source OS since they can save a lot of time and money using that instead of Windows when we're talking thousands of servers. The cloud revolution, if anything, was brought on my open source since it's made deploying thousands of servers cheap and easy. If the companies had to pay for licensing of software on all of those servers or roll their own OS, they would have built up (buying fewer, more powerful servers) rather than building out.
    • by Hylandr (813770)
      The Cloud is to open source, what Midway was to the allies in WWII. Not just Linux, but open source in general, just claimed a major global victory. moderatorrater poster pointed out this has to be built upon open source, as Microsloth and other proprietary systems would be tremendously cost prohibitive. The cost of licensing, and support costs would be astronomical. Windows may attempt to provide a cloud and claim they are the sole cloud provider. just like they tried to claim to be the backbone of the in
      • From Government Computer News [gcn.com]:

        Basically, GAE is a Google-hosted platform that can run applications written in Python. (Other languages â" such as PHP, Java and Ruby â" are being considered.) With the downloadable software development kit (SDK) and a copy of the Python runtime, you develop your application on a local machine and then upload it to Google. Google will run the app and worry about bandwidth, CPU and storage issues. Google provides a dashboard that allows you to keep track of how often

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zerocool^ (112121)

      Yep; I'm a sysadmin at Rackspace, and interact regularly with our Cloud infrastructure. Without going into detail, we're a Redhat shop. The framework is all proprietary; and that's what the article is talking about - there's not a (good) open cloud framework. But, it wouldn't be possible without open source at the foundation.

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:09PM (#28574149)

    Maybe I'm missing something big here, but isn't "cloud computing" largely just a data delivery service, and not really "software"? It's kind of hard to get a handle on "cloud computing" since it's such an amorphous buzzword. Can someone give me a real example of an application that's "cloud computing" based. I thought my little weather app telling me the temperature might be defined as "cloud computing".

    If the above is true, I don't see how OSS can really make some big impact on "cloud computing" any more than it can make it on websites. If it's not true, how could OSS big a big player in "cloud computing"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Leafheart (1120885)

      That is called FUD. Get the current buzzword related to technology, and just go and make like the OO movement is off the hook on it.

    • I'm equally confused, and am wondering whether the author meant to say "open standards" instead of "open source". Whether open standards could dominate the cloud seems like a much more sensible discussion to have.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Orion Blastar (457579)

      Could Computing [wikipedia.org] is simply a service provided over the Internet that is scalable and virtualized.

      In short the software is in the web browser, while the data is stored somewhere else like on the servers. The word "Cloud" is a metaphor for the Internet.

      This is not just an ordinary web application, it usually involves a virtual machine of some sort so that the web applications acts like a desktop application within the web browser. One that can be scaled to handle an almost unlimited amount of users.

      So for exam

      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Yes, I've read the wikipedia article on "cloud computing" too. I've also seen buzzwords come an go throughout the years, and have a decent understanding behind what they really mean.

        Buzzwords like "cloud computing" are MEANT to be amorphously defined, so then you can just say "Yup, we've got -buzzword-. Buzzwords are defined to mean "whatever the customer thinks it means". A wikipedia article that defined is interesting, but not not definitive by definition.

        If you COULD generalize, "cloud computing" is a

        • Of course it's amorphously defined. It's a CLOUD, fer chrissakes!
          • What does CLOUD mean?

            Client Licensed Outsourced User Data?

            Computer Linked Overpriced Usable Datastorage?

            Crap Listed Outrageous Unusable Dung!

            Central Loaded Off Universal Diagrams?

        • OK Cloud computing takes the Server/Client model one further by hosting it over the Internet instead of just the local network. You are right that it is a buzzword, and it seems as if the definition is very vague and changes definitions depending on who is giving the definition.

          Cloud computing is a service, but there is software involved, one of the definitions is software as a service. For example, Microsoft can have something like Live Office which is MS-Office as a service, and host it out for $99/year p

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Junta (36770)

        As with anything, it entirely depends on who you ask.

        'Scalable' does seem to be nearly ubiquitous for the concept of what 'cloud computing' means. Virtualization is common, but not a prerequisite.

        Your description seems to indicate that a 'virtual machine' in this context is referring to the more application-style of what runs in the browser behaving like an application. By and large, this style of making more extensive use of javascript to give a more 'desktop' feel to web applications is a mark of the 'W

      • by dkf (304284)

        Could Computing [wikipedia.org] is simply a service provided over the Internet that is scalable and virtualized.

        In short the software is in the web browser, while the data is stored somewhere else like on the servers. The word "Cloud" is a metaphor for the Internet.

        You've misunderstood. It's the servers that are virtualized, not (necessarily) the clients. Indeed, cloud computing is not about the clients (that's "Web 2.0" that you've got mixed up with there).
        [Leaving out lots of bits which stem from that basic error]

        The reason why open source developers don't support cloud computing is because they feel that it locks the users into third party technology and exposes their data across the Internet in violation of privacy that others could spy on it or capture it via packet sniffers. So OSS developers try to avoid making cloud computing applications as a matter of personal ethics, etc.

        Cloud computing does not need to be insecure (much of it is based on things like SSH and WS-Security, and nobody's claiming that they're desperately insecure) though it is up to you to make the best use of them. (Using them through a browser might be a less

        • OK let me set up this argument.

          You set up cloud computing services with company ABC for $199 a user per year. All of your data is on the virtualized ABC servers.

          You find out company XYZ has the same services for $99 a user per year. But Company ABC has your data locked into their virtual servers and they refuse to release the data or allow you to log into them and do the migration yourself. You don't want to lose X years of data, but you want a cheaper rate to save on your expenses.

          Not only that but employe

    • Cloud as a service (give it data and a process and you get results) is one definition of cloud computing. The other is the architecture itself (large scale data management). In order to have cloud as a service, you need the architecture. And that's the biggest problem we have today. Designing a highly scalable architecture is not easy. And without this architecture (which is software based), some other company cannot just create their own cloud (which beats the security issues with cloud as a service).

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Google Mail or MS Office Live / Hotmail is a cloud computing solution. Hosting your own exchange server isn't. I suppose your ISP or hosting provider's POP3 server would come under the cloud computing category as well.

    • It's kind of hard to get a handle on "cloud computing" since it's such an amorphous buzzword.

      Just like software design patterns, cloud computing is a set of software deployment anti-patterns ;-)

  • Unfortunately, this is where OSS is weak. The larger companies (Google, Amazon) can afford the large iron and backend storage stacks [1]. For the uptimes that modern cloud storage has, the equipment costs are tremendous, because the machines that are able to do the large volume I/O over the net not just have to have performance, but be engineered around reliability, and that means large clusters distributed over geographically different regions storing identical data.

    I don't really see how an open source

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      You can achieve the same level of reliability fairly cheaply, what's expensive is the throughput, which isn't necessary unless you want to support a large number of users, and if you have lots of paying customers you should be able to afford the highend kit.

    • by ratboy666 (104074)

      Your basic premise is wrong

      "The larger companies (Google, Amazon) can afford the large iron and backend storage stacks [1]. For the uptimes that modern cloud storage has, the equipment costs are tremendous, because the machines that are able to do the large volume I/O over the net not just have to have performance, but be engineered around reliability, and that means large clusters distributed over geographically different regions storing identical data."

      Google is based on Intel systems, although they have

  • I don't see how Open Source is not more relevant with the advent of cloud computing - sure no small startup can put up a gigantic server farm, but who cares when what's running on all the servers is open source software, and the services written atop THAT are also using open technologies?

    There's plenty of room for a small open source company to add a ton of value atop the raw cloud space. Having so many options means businesses will be grateful to anyone who can cull down the selection to a small set and m

    • ...who cares when what's running on all the servers is open source software, and the services written atop THAT are also using open technologies?

      Is it open, though? I expect that Amazon, Google, et. als. have tweaked and customized the bejeezus out of the underlying OS and other software, and aren't about to share it. So yeah, they're (maybe) using open source, and maybe even contributing some improvements back into those projects, but I'm not sure that's enough to say the cloud infrastructure is open source.

      • Many of these large companies have opened large parts of what they use and contributed back to the community. It is expensive to provide maintenance on a private codebase. Sure, there is worry that a competitive advantage is compromised through others accessing the work, however that risk is weighed against the benefits of pushing the burden of maintenance onto a community willing to work without explicit cost. If your company does something exceedingly clever and unique that has a relatively generic r

  • Battle with what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seth Kriticos (1227934) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:12PM (#28574167)
    Come on people, most of Google's and Amazon's could are run by Linux / BSD with costume modifications to adapt to the task at hand.

    If the article would state that these companies are not giving back much to the community in relation to what they take, then yes, that's probably true but they still rely heavily on OSS software.

    For me the whole article completely misses the point, but maybe I'm missing something here.

    Also: cloud computing is not going to take over everything. It is useful for certain situations like massive indexing, data backup storage and some forms of HPC (though the last group mostly build their own data centres or rely on distributed computing). The everyday business will not participate much.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      most of Google's and Amazon's could are run by Linux / BSD with costume modifications

      Making everything a dictionary word != spell correction. Turn it off, it's making things worse.

    • Yet.

      Once you get used to virtualization of your resources, clouds become 2nd nature and will open up to use by traditional businesses.

    • Come on people, most of Google's and Amazon's could are run by Linux / BSD with costume modifications to adapt to the task at hand.

      So Beastie is going to dress as a penguin?

    • run by Linux / BSD with costume modifications

      Skinnable kernels? ;-)

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:12PM (#28574171) Homepage
    It's really hard to see how free software isn't relevant to "cloud computing" services when you can basically build your own using them. Apache/MySQL/Php can let you build quite a bit...maybe that's not enough to be cloud certifiable er...certified but it works for me.

    The other issue here is market leadership and time-to-market. Admittedly this speed is somewhat lacking the free software world because the motivations are different but in the long run, free software will win out as it allows more of the best minds to collaborate to build better systems. I'm looking forward to a user/customer owned coop cloud solution and perhaps another one that consists of ready-to-download virtual machines that I can run on my own hardware wherever it may be. A project called Eucalyptus is a step in the right direction in this space.

    Some of these network services are starting with the right ethics in mind and it's those we should be talking up. With identi.ca, libre.fm, Eucalyptus and other projects making progress each day, free software(not open source) is anything but dead.
    • by mhall119 (1035984)

      A project called Eucalyptus is a step in the right direction in this space.

      Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is based on Eucalyptus and is already being heavily marketed by Canonical.

  • The article says, "Look around. The big vendors controlling IT and the Web are...the same vendors that controlled it yesterday, and are likely the same vendors that will control it 10 years from now." Yeah, look around, who were the major players in IT in the 70's? How many of them are still around? Of those, how many are major players today? IBM, HP, that's all I can think of. Microsoft wasn't a major player, neither was Apple.
    Take a look around, how many companies from the Dow Jones Industrial Average we
  • While all the corporations go for "cloud computing" and turning your computer usage into a service paid for by hourly or monthly subscription, to the point that if you want ANY corporate backed OS and/or userland and GUI you pay a subscription, people who actually care about controlling their hardware and what their clock cycles are used for will turn to FOSS so they can have a real OS to do their work with, unlike all the idiots buying into cloud computing that could get by with a simple SSH tunnel...
  • Cloud computing technologies are NOT about (or only about) big box companies hosting your applications. They are about the ability to host them where ever you want when you want, from big companies to local server farms to *gasp* the user's desktops. The next generation of application after cloud computing will have to do with being able to leverage computing resources anywhere and anytime with automated failover and resource sharing.

    Further, economy of scale only goes so far, that is why every company in

    • by zmollusc (763634)

      Heh, if the "can only run virtual apps" processor is insufficient to run linux, I will be very surprised. My guess at the requirements for WINDOWS 8 PRO CLASSIC FOR CLOUD would be quintuple quad core at 5.7GHz.

    • by jo42 (227475)

      Cloud computing technologies are NOT about (or only about) big box companies hosting your applications. They are about the ability to host them where ever you want when you want, from big companies to local server farms to *gasp* the user's desktops. The next generation of application after cloud computing will have to do with being able to leverage computing resources anywhere and anytime with automated failover and resource sharing.

      You mean like today's bots running on Windows-based botnets?

  • Wrong way round (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archtech (159117) on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:23PM (#28574259)

    'In a world where horsepower matters more than the software feeding those "horses"...'

    Wrong already! Software does the work - the "what" of solving problems. Hardware, while of course necessary too, is basically a fungible commodity - the "how". To use a counter-intuitive but revealing analogy, software is like the car while hardware plays the role of fuel.

    Good software is still fairly rare, whereas state-of-the-market hardware can be cheaply and plentifully obtained from several alternative sources. So the article has it exactly the wrong way round: it's software that is important, and hardware that plays the supporting role.

  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @03:24PM (#28574269) Homepage Journal

    I'd suggest that they are likely to grow to being an important part of computing, but no bigger than, for example, the large-server-and-Oracle part. (full disclosure: I'm a capacity planner, so most of my income comes from just that part).

    The disadvantage is that my cost per transaction is greater than if I had a steady load and ran my own machine room. The fees I and the other customers pay a cloud service have to cover their whole machine room, whether it's it's busy or not, plus their profit.

    So I see a natural evolution for a growing business. While they're small, they'll build a LAMP or Java stack on a small machine in the back room. If they grow slowly and steadily, they'll buy more, larger machines for the back room. If they grow without bound, they'll jump to LAMP-on-cloud or Java-on-a-cloud, with a few code changes as possible.

    Once they have mastered that, they'll move back and forth, depending on the business growth rate. If they grow too fast, they'll do a lot in the cloud. If they grow slowly, they'll have a cloud presence, but try to process as much in their own machine room as they can, to improve the profit margins, using the cloud for overflow and to run during my machine-room upgrade.

    Conclusion? common software between the cloud and the machine-room is important. Look for any standards developing in the LAMP/SAMP space, like the DMTF incubator at http://www.dmtf.org/about/cloud-incubator [dmtf.org] Look for Java offerings for business, like http://blogs.sun.com/cloud/entry/communityone_cloud_recap [sun.com] When you're there, specifically look for virtual machines that will run in the cloud. Finally, look for load-balancing mechanisms that will send your work to two different places, under your control, sometimes called "application distributors".

    Don't assume open source is at a disadvantage: if you can run your stack on a free VM on a standard-conforming cloud, however commercial it might be, then your computing can remain free of the control of others.

    --dave

  • The higher costs of service versus localized computing has been a known drawback since the beginning. It's part of the drive too, in the expectations of huge profits and / or market-share.

    That doesn't mean that open source can't participate, it just means that the big players are the big players. It's not that much of a switch really, money drives a lot of things and "free" does too. I imagine in the drive for domination of the market, the big boys will be clamoring to have other software hook into their cl

  • Most of the key components of those "closed" platforms were made open by that companies, or being open and already being widely used. What makes them hard to compete with is more pure horsepower, and human factors than them using closed or open source.
  • I wonder how many people are willing to pay a 25% premium to run Windows on Amazon EC2?

    It may be difficult for any startup, open source or not, to gain a foothold here. But when you're looking to reduce costs as much as possible, to sell a utility computing model, I don't see why you'd be adding extra software costs right away.

    In fact, the summary mentions other things, like Puppet and Hadoop, that make an impact.

    I don't know that anyone is claiming open source could provide such a service, any more than op

  • OSS isn't releveant to something that's totally irrelevant. So how releveant is OSS?
  • Personally I see could computing as a form of distributed computing. The current infrastructure given by Google, Amazon, etc. I do not see as very distributed since they run a few huge data centers. If they are taken offline then that is a major hit to the overall infrastructure. What I envision as cloud computing is that everyones computer using the cloud acts as a node in the whole infrastructure. Serving pieces of applications and data that reside on the cloud. I have mentioned this idea before and som
  • Gotta say, this sounds like a red herring to me. Although it may not look like it to those of us in the desktop generation, the cloud vendors are really providing us with a big computer, and operating it for us. If that big computer runs your custom Linux distro in a VM, is this materially different than running your custom stack on hardware provided and operated by your local ISP?

    I think cloud hegemony more worrying. For a long time we've had different development camps focused on different technologies.

  • Anybody else read that in the movie preview voice? It was really exciting until about the 3rd sentence.

  • Opensource _enables_ cloud computing!

    Or are people really itching to spend money on Microsoft Cloud Server Enterprise Edition?

    Can CIOs really be that stupid?

    (that was a rhetorical question, you...)

  • I couldn't care less what the cloud, or SAS, or software is running _on_. What I care about is whether or not it provides open, standards-based interoperability.

    Does Amazon s3 run on linux or bsd or WIndows ? I don't know, but I do know that I can't just connect over plain old SFTP or WebDAV without major gimmickry and transformation. (FWIW, providers like rsync.net do, in fact, allow direct, standards based interaction, so it's not impossible).

    On the other hand, another cloud-like provider might run on

  • This is like saying that a responsible citizen will never be able to replace a nation state, so we might as well give up. You, as an individual, or as an open source project, have a slim chance of replacing Google, or Amazon, or Salesforce. But, through an open source project, you can alter the rules of the game, and you CAN profoundly affect those big companies, how they operate, what work their employees do, what services they offer their customers, etc.

  • This is perhaps offtopic, but cloud computing probably wont be relevant forever. It is hard to imagine, however, how open source will not remain relevant. More than just code, open source is a part of a collective heritage that assimilates the new and builds on the old. It's a tall argument to say that one's heritage may some day become irrelevant.

    Below some (offtopic) thoughts on why cloud computing may not stay relevant (if it is, right now) into the future.

    • Geometric growth rate of hardware performanc
  • Wait a second...

    Aren't both Amazon and Google both based upon open source platforms? Not to mention Yahoo, 37Signals, and a whole bunch of other "cloud computing" services.

    Looks like OSS is doing pretty well in the cloud computing arena. What was he expecting? Someone writing an app that uses the processing power of third party Linux based systems to run a cloud like service while these PCs run their screen saver?

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:26PM (#28574757)

    Is Nick Carr just some academician who spins crazy theories just to get attention, and maybe make some money?

    He seem almost like a professional troll, with sensationalist, often inflammatory, subject lines like "is google making us stupid."

    Is there any reason to assume that Nick Carr knows any more about the future of IT than the average bum on the street? Okay, he's educated, since when have whack-job college educated predictors ever proven to be more accurate than flipping a coin?

    • Is Nick Carr just some academician who spins crazy theories just to get attention, and maybe make some money?

      He seem almost like a professional troll, with sensationalist, often inflammatory, subject lines like "is google making us stupid."

      Is there any reason to assume that Nick Carr knows any more about the future of IT than the average bum on the street? Okay, he's educated, since when have whack-job college educated predictors ever proven to be more accurate than flipping a coin?

      Don't know anything about Nick Carr, but...

      Google (and the net in general) is affecting our long-term memory retention. Why bother to remember something when you can google it? Technology always affects our way of life, so this is nothing special, but it is worth mentioning.
      Also, just for the record, if I could predict things in general with a coin-flip level of accuracy, I would be fucking ecstatic. All it would take is a few lottery tickets...

  • The way I see it, cloud computing, at least in its current form, is a business model. It is a buzzword that helps print more money, in lieu of actual innovation. It's the internet's idea of a make-work project.

    Open source cliques don't give a flying fuck about business models. Linux wasn't created to satisfy some whiney douchebag on CNet, it was created because it served the needs of a small niche of hackers, and it snowballed from there. The way things are right now, real geeks don't care so much about

  • Isn't a p2p cloud via the Internet the obvious solution to open-source's ability to compete with a proprietary cloud in some million square foot warehouse? After all, that warehouse is big and impressive, but the Internet is MUCH bigger and has all sorts of redundancies and local hubs, providing a local granularity to the p2p cloud that a few large warehouses can never match.

    • A truly distributed cloud is an interesting concept, but difficult in practice. First, in order to keep the data safe, it would have to be encrypted. But that means that it's difficult (probably impossible) for the local computer to actually interact with the data. You might be able to do some sort of web of trust thing that allows semi-trusted clients access to the data they need to do calculations, but it looks really hard to me.

      Next, in order to ensure that the data is always available, you need to ma

  • When you have to have a fully running infrastructure, the little guy has no real chance of competing on the 'service' side of clouds.

    Now, competing on what you run ON ( or under ) the "cloud", OSS can still be relevant.

  • The insanity of this article is that "Cloud Computing" has essentially been enabled by open source. Cloud computing is essentially putting huge data centres together with an architecture which supports massive parallelism. Hardware is cheap these days, but software before open source was expensive. And in the case of the OS that ran on that cheap hardware unreliable. Open Source has been the core enabler of companies like Google. Without technologies like Linux to build on Google and Amazon would not have b

  • .. well I'd rather not, especially if I have to trust proprietary software.

    This is an intentional metaphor.... regarding cloud computing and the recent Air France tragedy.

    cloud computing has the extra baggage of leaks and lags and outages in comparison to your local system on an UPS, that you can reset and take control over to overcome problems while having a better since of securing data/passangers.

  • really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jipn4 (1367823) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:28PM (#28576503)

    As far as I can tell, open source and Linux are being used far more widely in cloud computing than in corporate America. Cloud computing is going to be a cut-throat business, and it will be tough for companies like Microsoft to compete. Few of their usual dirty tricks work. And the cost of switching is low.

  • We need to start using the Afero Gpl v3 license [fsf.org], in every pice of software that could be used in the internet. Starting by the Linux kernel ASAP.

    It's the only way to stop being used by big companies (they call-it 'cloud computing', what a joke!)

  • Professor Frink: Well, sure, the Frinkiac-7 looks impressive, don't touch it, but I predict that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them.

    Summary:in terms of the entry cost to compete, and where big vendors like Amazon and Google are already divvying up the market, the odds of a small-fry, open-source start-up challenging 'Goliath' are slim. It's not a new argument: Nick Carr has been suggesting for

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

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