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Open Source in the Cloud (Part 2)

In our last post, we looked at how the open-source movement is fueling and accelerating the growth of cloud computing and its benefits to businesses. In this post, we will look at business model considerations that open-source in the cloud provide.

Common Open-Source Business Solutions Offered in the Cloud:
The cloud makes a great platform on which FOSS business models ranging from powering the cloud to offering FOSS as SaaS can flourish. Cloud computing can be a catalyst in innovating FOSS business models. Because strategies have been developed to address many common issues around licensing and intellectual property ownership, the cloud business model can serve as a blueprint for FOSS innovation. Some current ways companies are choosing to use open-source solutions in the cloud include the following:

Powering the cloud: FOSS can power the cloud infrastructure in a manner similar to the way it has been powering the on-premise infrastructure to let cloud vendors minimize total cost of ownership. A seldom-discussed benefit of FOSS for the cloud is the use of algorithms such as MapReduce and Google Protocol Buffer that are core to parallel computing and lightweight data exchange.

FOSS lifecycle management: There is a disconnect between source code repositories, design time tools, and application runtime. Cloud vendors have the potential not only to provide an open-source repository of these important items, such as Sourceforge, but also to allow developers to build the code and deploy it using the horsepower of cloud computing.

FOSS dissemination: Delivering pre-packaged and tested FOSS bundles with support and upgrades has been proven to be a successful business model for vendors including RedHat Spikesource and Cloud.com. Using the cloud as an FOSS dissemination platform could allow vendors to scale up their infrastructure and operations to disseminate the FOSS to their customers. These vendors also have a strategic advantage if their customers want to move their infrastructure to the cloud. This architectural approach will scale to support all kinds of customer deployments—cloud, on premise, and side by side. The cloud’s distributed computing capabilities can also perform static scans to identify version changes, track dependencies, and minimize the time to run regression testing.

Compose and run on the cloud: Vendors such as Coghead and Bungee Connect provide composition, development, and deployment of tools and applications on the cloud. Although these companies are not providing FOSS solutions, a similar business model could be deployed for FOSS, enabling delivery of an entire FOSS application lifecycle on the cloud.

FOSS as SaaS: This is the holy grail of all the FOSS business models. Don’t just build, compose, or disseminate your FOSS, but deliver a true SaaS experience to all your users. In this kind of experience, the “service” is free and open source. The monetization is not about consuming the services, but about using the FOSS services as a base platform and providing a value proposition on top of that. Using the cloud as an FOSS business platform would allow companies to experiment with their offerings in a true try-before-you-buy sense.

In our next post, we will explore what it really takes takes to adopt open-source in the cloud.

We are curious – what business uses and challenges are you really seeing for open source in the cloud?

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More Stories By Haresh Parekh

Haresh Parekh is Lead Architect, Cloud Computing Practice, The Armada Group. He has over 18+ years of experience in Information Technology across different industries in consumer-driven companies; successfully creating, delivering and managing large scale web-based enterprise applications/services (SaaS) at start-ups to Fortune 500 multi-nationals; with extensive experience in application and product development, architecture, databases, team building and infrastructure. During this time, he has been credited with delivering mission-critical, distributed, scalable, high-volume and award-winning systems for companies like Air India, Knowledge Universe, Leap Frog, and eBay to name a few, catering to a user base of hundreds of thousands of users with solutions ranging from $5 to $50 million. In his spare time, he is involved in non-profit and philanthropic initiatives.

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