ApacheCon NA 2015 - Gabriele Columbro - Is Open Source the right model in the Cloud Era?

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Open Source means a lot of things and revolutionized the way software is built over the last two decades.

Whether developing a product or providing a service, companies are rushing to get their businesses cloud ready, increasingly (big) data driven and flexible enough to take advantage of the inherent business scalability opportunities offered by the cloud.

And as the focus switches to the scale economies of execution, from ever cheaper opaque hosted web storage and connected services to the immutable containers movement, a question arises: what is the role of Open Source software in a world in which not only software (SaaS), but also platform (PaaS) and infrastructure (IaaS) are increasingly delivered (and consumed) as hosted services?

In this session, we'll attempt to answer to this question, by providing examples of Open Source cloud & big data companies and studying the effects of open development ecosystems and how Open Source is engrained in the fabric of the Cloud.

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  • I grew up in the open source,  I am now 21. Ok now just kididng, I’m 33, but my first professional job was in 2003 with JSP on Tomcat and Maven. Open source has been part of my professional life since it’s inception, and one of the core values keeping my ‘soul’ in check while delivering software. But other than the “conscience” aspect, there was more. Open source quickly became a selling point for my profile, and the companies I worked for.
  • My approach to “professional” open source started in 2005 with Apache Cocoon, I developed a bunch of websites for the Dutch government on and moved to Holland working for a company called Sourcesense, founded by Gianugo Rabellino (some of the older apache folks in the room might know Don G, who currently moved to Microsoft). 

    The mission was of the company to be gather the ‘open source’ elite in Europe and offer people experience and participation in open source communities as added value for companies entering the fantastic (and somehow scary at the time) world of open source.

    This was the first real open source business model I took part in. And it was pretty successful, we went from 2 to 20 people in about a year, with services spanning in 3 countries and key partners like Atlassian and Alfresco.
  • Well, the success of Sourcesense and my personal allowed me to keep on riding the open source wave, and in 2009 I moved to Alfresco Software, the company I worked since then. Alfresco is an Open Source ECM (Enterprise Content Management) who has, like many others in the industry of last and this decade, focused on provide subscription services (for support, maintenance, etc) on a fully open source product. People would download the software, self evaluate, and ultimately purchase an Enterprise subscription. The good old conversion model.

    One aspect: I remember clearly how open source, as a cultural item, was entrenched on the Alfresco early days culture. There was respect for the open source, although at times it was simply seen as a “marketing” tool. But you know what, I said to myself, whatever works, and I had a pretty damn good ride with Alfresco.

    You can see in the picture us making summit in Mt Toubkal in Morocco, one of the most vivid memories and probably the less boring business trip I have ever had.



  • And what about Apache? Well Apache has been part of my experience since the early days. Gianugo and Ugo, founder and principal of Sourcesense, were very supportive in us working in the open source community, and so I contributed to Apache Maven as well as became an initial committer for Apache Chemistry, the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services), got my Apache email address (I was likely the happiest kid ever when that happened) and since then I have pulled out 13 releases of the Java CMIS implementation OpenCMIS.

    The best part of my Apache involvement: well, combining the dynamic duo open standard + open source, and having to mediate ours and our competitors interests working on the same codebase on a public arena has been an eye-opening experience. I was too young to understand but I was witnessing a phenomenon that only open source can enable, i.e. competitors cooperation towards a common goal of standardization, with humangous benefits for the whole industry. More on this later.
  • And when all seemed to work fine, here’s the cloud bringing us once again out of our comfort zone and re-inventing the way our users consume software. This raised a few question in my mind, especially now that I am the Product Manager for an Open Source platform.

    So What’s the role of open source in this brave new world in which software is hardly even downloaded anymore?

    This the question that I am trying to answer today and more than having solid answers I have data points, and, in a pure lean validation spirit I’d love to hear your feedback and opinions at the end of the presentation.

    Before digging into this, I think though it’s fundamental to make sure we are not comparing apple to oranges and so I’d like to clarify, for the purpose of this presentation, what do I mean by Open Source model.
  • Before we jump into analyzing the role of open source it’s important to udnersline and show some of the demographics of growth of the cloud world, just to set the stage and understand volumes.
  • • the maintenance era might be coming to an end
    • services should be value add, no a ‘one size fits all’ maintenance cost
    • cost and market-based pricing are soon to be outshined by value-based pricing.
    ◦ Value pricing is an organizational belief system with the core tenet that price should be based on the economic impact of a service on the customer’s business, i.e., the economic value delivered, relative to competitive alternatives.


    • one of the main concerns with open source “skeptics” is the free nature (free as in no fee, not as in Stallman’s view). Well value based pricing and saas might just kill this idea that you pay for software, in fact in saas, you pay for a service and the value your business can derive from this service, whether that’s ROI to your top-line or reduction of friction in the bottom line
  • Focus si on value, not on software.

    But so in a world where software is not even typically delivered to the end user, where the cost of a service is farther and farther away from the actual cost of development of that solution, what’s the role of Open Source?
  • Well at a first glance this google trend seems to indicate the cloud has replaced open source in the general public interest in software, in fact you can see how the average interest in the last 10 years has been pretty much the same (as a side note, indicating the the total volume of the audience has not changed drastically) but cloud has consistently gained momentum and overtook Open Source in 2011.

    But is the real reason a decreasing interest in open source or is just market hype?


    Or better said are we seeing here the signs of something that is now “tablestakes” and “commoditized” so there’s almost no more reason to search for it?
    Let’s look at how open source is actually doing globally in the cloud era.

  • • the maintenance era might be coming to an end
    • services should be value add, no a ‘one size fits all’ maintenance cost
    • cost and market-based pricing are soon to be outshined by value-based pricing.
    ◦ Value pricing is an organizational belief system with the core tenet that price should be based on the economic impact of a service on the customer’s business, i.e., the economic value delivered, relative to competitive alternatives.


    • one of the main concerns with open source “skeptics” is the free nature (free as in no fee, not as in Stallman’s view). Well value based pricing and saas might just kill this idea that you pay for software, in fact in saas, you pay for a service and the value your business can derive from this service, whether that’s ROI to your top-line or reduction of friction in the bottom line
  • The Open Source model is stronger than even, at least as far as the infrastructural components and the enablers for innovation goes. i.e. open source, in its most pure form and meaning, i.e. a bazaar driven, global, disruptive software development model is growing and it’s the only possible choice for the cloud world, fueling it with value without the nonsense of a license cost. Value based pricing and the devops movement are two strong drivers
  • OPen Standards and open source are married, they fuel each other and they improve each other.

    This is another reason why, given the industry interest in open standards (even analysts finally talk about it, especially at infra and cloud level), open source, in the pure form of a development model, is in massive growth.

    Example I know of HTTPd but more personally OpenCMIS, for which I am release manager for, has been a great example of a cooperation of vendors in a public arena and has produced 13 releases in just over 4 years.
  • So the old style support / services model on open source products are coming to an end. In this sense my thinking and the consensus out there is that will never be another redhat in the way have seen it in the past, especially at “solution” level where users don’s see open source as a differentiator (saas is way simple for them).

    Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say there ARE no money to be made on open source support services (and the recent Hortonworks IPO, if successful will prove this), just we are likely not to see this billion dollar companies making money on support / consulting services.

    The real $$$, indirectly connected to open source as we explained, is in delivering SaaS solutions that are based on Open Source components, which is exactly what very successful global SaaS companies are doing like Netflix, Google, Facebook
  • ApacheCon NA 2015 - Gabriele Columbro - Is Open Source the right model in the Cloud Era?

    1. 1. Is Open Source the right model in the Cloud Rush era? Gabriele Columbro Sr. Product Manager. Core Platform / API, Alfresco Software @mindthegabz
    2. 2. 2 A look at our presentation agenda The Open Source Cloud Journey Born in the OSS Sketches, notes and sensations from an Open Source decade Trends of the Cloud Era SaaSification of Products and Enterprises, *aaS and value-based offerings
    3. 3. 3 Open Source vs. Cloud Trends, fears, value of software vs. services in the SaaS world, do software licenses even makes sense nowadays? Open Source + Cloud There would be no cloud with open source, the Devops movement, the Github generation OSS as a business model The Open Source product and services model in the cloud era The Commoditization Era Open Source has commoditized software, Cloud has commoditized hardware
    4. 4. 4 A look at our presentation agenda The End Take-aways If you were bored, or just lazy, this is really the part you want to remember! :)
    5. 5. Born in the OSS Doubts of an open source fundamentalist in the SaaS world
    6. 6. 6 -Gabriele Columbro- Sr. Product Manager, Core Platform / API, Alfresco Software ”Grown in the flourishing Open Source Enterprise ecosystem of the last decade, bringing a wealth of expertise on ECM, Application Lifecycle Management, Developer ergonomics, SaaS and PaaS architectures, both in terms of Product and People leadership”
    7. 7. The early integrator days ApacheCon EU Dublin 2006
    8. 8. The early product days In the end, you don’t want it to be ‘just work’ - John Powell, Alfresco CEO 2010
    9. 9. The Apache Way Working up the meritocracy ladder
    10. 10. 10 And then came the Cloud With all its goods and bads No more software downloads? Wait no more hardware either? Where’s my source? Is the Open Source model even still relevant?
    11. 11. 11 A persona driven view on Open Source The Open Source Model? For the Developer A software development approach based on community and ecosystem collaboration, where results of your work are publicly available and contribute to create your portfolio For the End User A software delivery methodology which enables users to access sources and binaries, install, evaluate and use the product with no charge For the Entrepreneur A market differentiator on which to build a product or services company profitable business model
    12. 12. Chronicles from the Cloud Rush Era Trends and data on Cloud and Open Source
    13. 13. Cloud adoption soaring 2015 http://assets.rightscale.com/uploads/pdfs/RightScale-2015-State-of-the-Cloud- Report.pdf
    14. 14. Down and deep in the stack http://www.mazikglobal.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Cloud-Service- Models.png
    15. 15. Cloud strategy is focused on value http://assets.rightscale.com/uploads/pdfs/RightScale-2015-State-of-the-Cloud- Report.pdf
    16. 16. 16 Timothy Mantanovic - Technology Services Industry Association Value based pricing Value pricing is an organizational belief system with the core tenet that price should be based on the economic impact of a service on the customer’s business, i.e., the economic value delivered, relative to competitive alternatives. http://blog.tsia.com/blog/book-excerpt-profitable-technology-services-pricing-by-timothy-mantanovich
    17. 17. Fastest growing SaaS embrace value-based http://blog.kaseya.com/blog/2015/02/09/msp-pricing-survey-growth-leaders-sell- value/
    18. 18. 18 No SaaS, no party The rush for SaaSification 1. Private, hybrid and public cloud adoption is rising quickly in the Enterprise, faster than what was predicted years ago. 2015 is a key year. 2. On Premise Product companies are quickly moving towards providing SaaS offerings to respond to market demand and compete on innovation with pure SaaS players 3. SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, BaaS, *aaS are commoditizing lower and lower layers of the stack and lowering the entry barrier for companies entering the brave new world 4. Cost and pricing focus is quickly switching from software to actual value (ROI) a company can realize by using your service
    19. 19. So is Cloud killing the Open Source model?
    20. 20. The Github generation https://camo.githubusercontent.com/9df81964b288254547c6607fe29e55b0e7dcef6a/68747470733a2f2f662e636c6f7 5642e6769746875622e636f6d2f6173736574732f343438332f313830333636372f62306564363634652d366332342d3 13165332d393535392d6535373032323135633437612e706e67
    21. 21. Central Repository explosion http://img.en25.com/Web/SonatypeInc/%7B138a2551-edac-46a3-bfcb-240352a42fed%7D_2014SurveyResults_july- 14-14.pdf
    22. 22. Blackduck projects growth https://www.blackducksoftware.com/news/releases/2014-future-open-source-survey-results-revealed
    23. 23. 23 The Cloud would not exist without Open Source An Open Source Cloud infrastructure army ”Facebook is built on open source from top to bottom, and could not exist without it” - https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/folly-the-facebook-open-source-library/10150864656793920 ”Open source can exist without cloud computing, but cloud computing can't exist without http://thevarguy.com/var-guy/red-hat-ceo-cloud-cant-exist-without-open-source
    24. 24. 24 Public and Private clouds live and breathe open source And what about the Public Cloud itself?
    25. 25. 25 Public and Private clouds live and breathe open source And private Clouds?
    26. 26. 26 The rationale behind this is twofold So it’s Open Source + Cloud! Scale Economies Cultural roots Open source licensing enables horizontal scaling and commoditization of software on top commoditized hardware Cloud is powered by DevOps, a natively global culture with strong roots in Open Source values like sharing and the “bazaar”
    27. 27. 27 Stephen O’Grady - RedMonk And what about the User? If it’s easier to download and spin up an open source database than talk to a salesperson, it’s even easier to download nothing at all and make setup, operation and backup of that database someone else’s problem. http://redmonk.com/sogrady/2015/03/17/open-source-and-aas/
    28. 28. 28 A persona driven view on Open Source The Open Source Model? For the Developer A software development approach based on community and ecosystem collaboration, where results of your work are publicly available and contribute to create your portfolio For the End User A software delivery methodology which enables users to access sources and binaries, install, evaluate and use the product with no charge For the Enterpreneur A market differentiator on which to build a product or services company profitable business model
    29. 29. 29 So is Open Source dead as a business model? Open Source business model history 1993 First Redhat Linux distribution 1994 First Successful Commercial Open Source stock exchange listing Redhat NYSE Listing 2006
    30. 30. 30 Bought for $1B (although rumors say revenue was only $65M at the time of acquisition) Mysql Acquisition2008 “The leader in Open Source Enterprise Content Management” 2010 “The Open Source Business Intelligence and data integration leader” Pentaho2010 “The world fastest growing open source CRM company” SugarCRM 2010 Alfresco Software
    31. 31. 31 2015 ”The decline of ‘open source’ as an identifying differentiator” Matthew Aslett - 451 Group http://blogs.the451group.com/opensource/2011/06/27/the-decline-of-open-source-as-an-identifying-differentiator/ 2011 We are living in a post open source world! Matt Asay http://www.infoworld.com/article/2608576/open-source-software/open-source-software-we-re-living-in-a-post-open-source-world.html 2014
    32. 32. Economics of open source http://peter.a16z.com/2014/02/14/why-there-will-never-be-another- redhat-the-economics-of-open-source/
    33. 33. 33 why Open Source per se does not make sense as a business model Considerations on commercial Open Source 1. Open Source seemed has won battle for software commoditization, i.e. it’s no more a differentiator, it’s table stakes (especially at infra level) 2. The talent pool available to work on Open Source projects has immensely grown over the last decade, so value in providing high-cost specialized open source support services is decreasing 3. SaaS is driving the switch to value-based economics so that focus is no more on software and it’s nature, but on value 4. The major (and most successful) open source contributors are not Open Source companies, nor they sell software. 5. While enterprise interest for declines for Open Source per se (de facto standard), Open Standards is highly ranked in IT and Business departments as a key differentiator
    34. 34. 34 Open Standards on Open Source 1. Open Standards are better implemented in an Open Source environment fostering collaboration on a meritocratic public arena that mediates corporate interests 2. HTTPd or Chemistry OpenCMIS 3. Behlendorf: Every successful internet standard came from open source protocols. #ApacheCon 4. Warning: Too many open source projects for the same purpose might kill the purpose for an Open Standard, e.g. OpenStack vs. CloudStack vs. NetflixOSS. Open standards (and innovation) can benefit from consolidation of open source projects.
    35. 35. 35 A persona driven view on Open Source The Open Source Model? For the Developer A software development approach based on community and ecosystem collaboration, where results of your work are publicly available and contribute to create your portfolio For the End User A software delivery methodology which enables users to access sources and binaries, install, evaluate and use the product with no charge For the Enterpreneur A marketing differentiator on which to build a product or services company profitable business model
    36. 36. 36 True Open Source won again!The Cloud is driving the real value of Open Source, i.e. that software and knowledge should be common domain and revenue is attached to value-add services based on open source components rather than on mere one-size-fit-all maintenance and service price tags for OSS projects So ultimately…
    37. 37. Conclusions and take-aways Ok, this is really somewhat important for you to listen to :)
    38. 38. 38 Just not to forget Take-aways Open Source + Cloud It’s not open source vs. *aaS, openSource + *aaS for the win! There’s no cloud without open source Open Source is the fabric of the cloud, as that’s where the whole economy of scale lies, i.e. commoditized SW on top of commoditized HW But Cloud is giving back By fostering the proliferation of open source technologies, who no more play catch up mode to proprietary alternative but drive innovation Open Source is table stakes in the Cloud IT Open source is growingly commoditized, i.e. CIOs expects open source or a reason not to, especially in the cloud commoditized world Open Standards are the real value Enterprises and vendors are increasingly understanding the value of open standards, especially at cloud scale, and the Open Source development model fosters high quality and adoption of standards The new open source cloud business model Delivering value to users in a service fashion leveraging open source technologies is the new de- facto standard of customer-driven and successful SaaS companies
    39. 39. 39 WHAT WHY WHERE WHEN WHO HOW Any Question??? Or comment, suggestion, praise, applause, yawn or wildly positive/negative feedback?
    40. 40. And what about the internet of things? https://www.blackducksoftware.com/news/releases/2014-future-open-source-survey-results-revealed
    41. 41. 41 Alfresco Software Americas Apache Software Foundation gabriele@apache.orgSr. Product Manager, Core Platform / API Gabriele Columbro @mindthegabz Thank you for listening!

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