Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Stackify Blog, Vaibhaw Pandey, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Wesley Coelho

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo

Open Source Cloud: Article

Cloud.com Exec Mark Hinkle on Community, Infrastructure, and T-Shirts

"Open Source Only Works When You Empower People to Do Exceptional Things"

Cloud.com was founded in 2008 with a mission to "take the complexity and high costs out of deploying cloud services," according to its website. It delivers an open-source software platform for public and private cloud environments, delivering components to build, deploy, and manage multi-tier and multi-tenant cloud applications.

Cloud.com's CloudStack solution aims to let the company's customers get rolling "in minutes, without the overhead of integration, professional services, (or) complex deployment schedules."

The company's VP of Community, Mark Hinkle, is well-known in the open-source community, having been the force behind driving the Zenoss Core community to more than 100,000 members.

Mark co-founded the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium, has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine, and authored the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration." (Thomson, 2006).

Roger Strukhoff: Where does Cloud.com fit into the SaaS/PaaS/IaaS continuum?

Mark Hinkle: Cloud.com is an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution. We abstract the server, storage and networking to allow IT to offer elastic computing power on demand so that IT personnel can match resources with the needs of the organization.

If you look at software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service they usually build on top of IaaS. We are striving to be the best cloud platform that enables users to provide virtual resources in a secure, highly-available and scalable way and we want to provide the foundation for other cloud offerings.

Roger: You've been involved in open-source and community building for a long time. How does this experience come into play at Cloud.com?

Mark: The two things I've learned above all else is open source is a technology development process not a business model; using Red Hat as the best example that a thriving community can drive a profitable business.

Second, open source only works when you empower people to do exceptional things. That starts with giving them a useful, open piece of technology to use and extend without additional software or services from a sponsoring organization. I think a lot of companies foul things up by trying to create superficial, divisive mechanisms to force free users into upgrading to commercial versions.

Roger: And how do you apply those lessons?

Mark: My experience has given me a better understanding of what tactics work for facilitating a community, and which ones don't. For example, many people discuss the value of community development, which is an activity that only a small percentage of the community participates in.

Before you get to open source success you must start with user-led adoption. Typically only after there are successful users does it help with the development of the technology.

You cannot cause this to happen; it's just a function of having a critical mass in your community. In addition, I subscribe to Bill Joy's Law: "No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else." Open source development is unique in that it allows you to tap the talents of those people.

Roger: And those smart people are everywhere...

Mark: Yes, and so I've come to understand that communities thrive when they interact with and learn from other communities. I have tremendous respect for the Red Hat-sponsored Fedora project, for example, which published a book on open source community development and methodologies called "The Open Source Way." It's an excellent blueprint for developing open source communities. I hope that we can leverage their experience to build our own cloud computing community.

Roger: What are your day-to-day activities? What unique challenges are there to community building in a Cloud environment, ie, a more strategic environment than pure geek stuff?

Mark: My day-to-day activities are consumed with two things: evangelizing and trying to facilitate the use of our cloud computing software.

Roger: And how do you go about this?

Mark: This means communicating the value of our project in forums and in the press as well as talking and interacting with people interested in using our technology. By providing the technology as open source it widens the audience by removing barriers to participation and provides a forum for a richer conversation about the product versus pay-to-play software.

Also, I have to give credit to Cloud.com for providing substantial resources to build the project. I have recently added a technical community manager to the team who handles the day-to-day interactions including answering forum questions, providing answers to FAQs and a lot of the things a user needs from a technical perspective.

Roger: How do you get your jollies?

Mark: One of my favorite community activities is to go to LinuxFests--volunteer-run, open source expos--and talk to people about their needs and get live feedback on what they do. This spring we'll be at the Southern California Linux Expo, Indiana LinuxFest, and LinuxFest Northwest, speaking, offering free training, and providing demos.

Roger: And handing out T-shirts, I hope.

Mark: Of course! Handing out Cloud.com T-shirts. We're also doing a "Build and Open-Source Cloud" event at some of them.

Roger: What's the difference, to you, between a "customer" and a "community member"? Is there any effective difference?

Mark: The main difference is that customers pay us money for a guaranteed level of support and service, and input for the product roadmap. Some customers pay us for cloud implementation services and customizations.

Unlike many commercial open-source companies, our open-source software and products are convergent, not divergent. So later this spring, we'll be combining our code bases completely.

The CloudStack product will be the same for commercial and community users. We'll also be offering free unrestricted use add-ons though we want to maintain control of the development.

That said, as a community manager I don't draw a distinction between free and paid customers, in that I try to offer the highest level of support to all members of the community. As a company, Cloud.com strives to service the customers in a way that makes them acknowledge the value they pay for, as well as provide resources for our do-it-yourselfers in our open source community.

Roger: What hot buttons do you see with members of your community?

Mark: There aren't many, but if I had to pick one it is the lack of solutions to build truly useful infrastructure for collaboration. I think it's an area that every open-source project at some level struggles with.

Having a platform that allows users to interact via forums, post blogs, report bugs, contribute documentation, etc. is important and I don't think there is a great solution out there.

Roger: Really?

Mark: Right now there are great open source projects for parts of the problem--Drupal for content management, MindTouch or MediaWiki for wikis, Trac for bug tracking and collaborative development. But there is very little "glue" to hold them all together.

Roger: And what does that mean for Cloud.com?

Mark: Right now we have a lot of work to do on our infrastructure for the Cloud.com community. But I have found that the easier it is to interact, the quicker the community grows and more value they get from it.

I would point to Linux.com as one of the best examples around of community infrastructure. I think they did a good job extending the Joomla! open source CMS to make their community easy to participate in. Ubuntu's Launchpad is pretty good, too.

But there are always features individual communities want or need that aren't features of even the most broad projects.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...