Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Open Source Cloud

@DevOpsSummit: Article

Hidden Costs of Open Source By @HoardingInfo | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

Open source projects allow us to adopt technology without a lot of hoops

by Chris Riley

Open source projects allow us to adopt technology without a lot of hoops.  We get to leverage a strong community base, and potentially support the growing group committed to building even better solutions, which can have the added benefit of notoriety. But there is one problem - open source is not as it seems. While it might appear free to begin with, it does come with cost down the road in real dollars, pain, risk, and time.

hidden-costs-of-open-source Many companies are open-source first. Where every new challenge is faced with the question, "is there an open source tool to help us?" This is driven by the notion of free support for the dev community and the interest in speed of adoption. And often, their love is rooted in the original spirit of open source which is not the dominant driving force today.

There are three types of open-source technologies:

  1. Community Drive: These types of projects are usually fairly small. They are originally created by one or two individuals and often as part of an asset from a larger and existing code base. The projects are shared over GitHub, and contribution is almost always done by the original creators as they see fit. While there are some larger projects of this sort, the large ones usually evolve into a commercial interest-driven one. The pros of these types of projects are that they are the only ones that keep the spirit of the early days of open source alive. They are pure and free. The cons are you cannot trust that they will ever be updated or maintained. The original creators' interest in continuing the project is usually predicated on their use of the code themselves. Their driver is not tied directly to the growth of the project like others described below. Which means unless you fork the code, and keep it as your own, never reverting back or expecting anything from the original project, you are good.
  2. Commercial Interest Driven: This is the most popular type of open source project. And while many developers may know there is a strong commercial backing for them, they are not fully aware of the motives. Examples of such projects are orchestration tools, NoSQL DBs, enterprise search tools, release automation, and so on. Commercial interest means that there is a larger company who has eaten the effort and actual cost of creating the original code base. They have the ability to rally a large community, and an impressive set of contributors. These are the larger, more commonly used open source tools by the developer community. But they are a little sneaky. One or more of the primary committers will work for the commercial entity.  Many of the feature request will come from the commercial interest itself. They know that as much as  90% of the user base will never pay them. But  they leverage the enterprise driver to have clear support and stability in their vendor. So their hope via some great events around the technology, and sniffing around the user base, is that the cream will rise to the top and purchase an "enterprise" version, commercial support, or professional services to support a company's use of the product. For the smaller developers they get to reap the benefits, although there are some risks stated below.
  3. Consumer Enterprise Driven: This one is very interesting. Companies like PayPal, Etsy, Netflix, Facebook are releasing very large open source projects. Some, like Netflix even have their own microsites around the projects and have a small full time staff to support their growth in addition to internal committers. All the code is developed in-house usually, but there are times when outside committers are allowed. Why do they do it? One very simple reason - talent. By giving goodwill to community it makes it a lot easier to entice top tier developers. As simple as that. The pros of such tools is they are validated at high volume. That is also the con, they are just not right for all applications, especially small ones.

The Hidden Costs

  1. It could disappear in the blink of an eye. Especially for the first type, they could disappear instantly. And for the consumer enterprise open source projects, they also could move on quickly and let the projects die on the vine as they replace old code bases with brand new approaches. Just look at how Google and Facebook have burned through programming languages, file systems, databases, etc. As for commercial interest open source, there is a strong backing and they will remain as long as the company survives.
  2. Features could get stripped. There might be a driver for the commercial interest open source solutions to strip down their project; they often do this to encourage more adoption of the enterprise solutions. There is even a trend to create a middle tier professional offering for smaller companies.
  3. Not built for you. Many are not general enough to be used in projects without a lot of additional effort. And this effort just may not be worth it. This is most commonly true with the consumer enterprise projects; the solutions were built specifically for them, and not generalized for the public as the commercial interest ones are.

The constant across all of these is the unknown and instability of the solution.

The reality is, to really dive into an open-source project you will likely have to settle with a commercial interest one. You probably will be blindsided at some point by the need to "upgrade" in addition to your overall, sometimes ignored, costs. These include adaptation of the tool for you, and security planning. Often these hidden costs are higher than if a commercial solution was purchased. And if it is a cloud solution, the cost difference could be equivalent to the days of licensing enterprise software (CAPEX) compared to cloud competitors (OPEX) which can be a savings many times over.

Open source is a powerful tool, and no comprehensive development environment will be without some valuable open source components. The key is knowing that there often is a motive, and even when there isn't, there will always be a trade off and some hidden costs. The idea is that you are deliberate about adopting open source, and not adopting just because it is easy. And you should always compare the open source tool with a commercial pay for alternative, in order to better decide and weigh the costs. You might be surprised to find that the paid offering is a clear winner.

More Stories By Trevor Parsons

Trevor Parsons is Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Logentries. Trevor has over 10 years experience in enterprise software and, in particular, has specialized in developing enterprise monitoring and performance tools for distributed systems. He is also a research fellow at the Performance Engineering Lab Research Group and was formerly a Scientist at the IBM Center for Advanced Studies. Trevor holds a PhD from University College Dublin, Ireland.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
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, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Chris Matthieu is the President & CEO of Computes, inc. He brings 30 years of experience in development and launches of disruptive technologies to create new market opportunities as well as enhance enterprise product portfolios with emerging technologies. His most recent venture was Octoblu, a cross-protocol Internet of Things (IoT) mesh network platform, acquired by Citrix. Prior to co-founding Octoblu, Chris was founder of Nodester, an open-source Node.JS PaaS which was acquired by AppFog and ...
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...