Far from making open source irrelevant - an idea that only works if you see software solely in terms of proprietary packages sold by software vendors – cloud computing will drive ever more companies to participate in, and eventually contribute to, open source communities.
Not every project hits the headlines. As I’ve been co-hosting FLOSS Weekly over the last few months, I’ve noticed a surprising number of projects showing up that handle cloud computing in useful ways and are staff by Red Hat employees. I take a short stroll through some of those less known projects in this week’s InfoWorld column.
Usually when I want to illustrate the capricious and arbitrary nature of cloud-provided services, I use other examples. But today Google has shown me that they too simply can’t be trusted to provide a service one relies upon. They are perfectly happy to leave you stranded without explanation or remedy.
As well as shutting down the Gizmo voice-over-IP service they bought, without any explanation or alternative but at least with a little warning sent via e-mail, they have also taken away the ability for anyone to use the “Call Phone” capability within Google Talk in GMail while outside the US. You probably won’t have used it if you had Gizmo set up, but now you need it – it’s gone.
So if you were using Google Voice for your phone calls while in the US and then relying on either using your Android phone with a VoIP client or the Voice support in Chat to manage your calls while you are travelling, forget it. They just turned it off, without warning, explanation or even the courtesy of a response to users in their online forums. That calling credit you have is now useless until you get back to the USA.
This is not the behaviour of a reliable service provider. I’m sure they are technically within their rights; there’s probably a load of weasel-words in some terms of service somewhere. But to provide a service that people depend upon and then withdraw it without warning, explanation, alternative or apology is simply unacceptable.
After discovering BitCoin (where such a large number of people were kind enough to send small donations to 1LfdGnGuWkpSJgbQySxxCWhv8MHqvwst3 that I’m now considering paying for my VoIP with it) I’ve been accumulating a list of other non-centralised infrastructure that might evolve into something that’s both effective and Senator-proof. The list is posted on my blog over at ComputerWorldUK.
It used to take a bailiff and a man with an axe for the door, but the cloud makes it so much easier. If I told you that your entire business infrastructure could be taken offline by a government employee, or even a commercial provider, without judicial review, useful explanation or workable recourse, perhaps because a politician has philosophical issues with your activities, would that worry you? Yet it seems that the most popular brands on the market for cloud computing and web services place you at that risk if you follow the trend to cloud hosting for business infrastructure.
Continued over on ComputerWorldUK…
At the end of the Community Leadership Summit here in Portland people arriving for OSCON started to show up. They included one of the guys behind Rackspace’s announcement of OpenStack that was made today. He gave me a full rundown of both the news and the history behind it. The history seems to suggest it was the open core business model that lead to the creation of OpenStack. Read more on ComputerWorldUK.