Rackspace open source cloud breakfast: techie toasties & cloudpaccinos

The press conference is dead as a meeting format isn’t it? No, apparently not. Managed cloud computing company Rackspace staged what is now its sixth breakfast press briefing this morning in London’s glittering Soho region.

Chaired by industry analyst and (arguably) nicest man on the planet Jon Collins, the full panel included the following:

Igor Ljubuncic, principal engineer, Rackspace

Mat Keep, ‎director, product & market analysis, MongoDB

Martin Percival, senior solutions architect, Red Hat

Clive Hackney, senior engineer, Capgemini

Alexis Richardson, co-founder and CEO, Weaveworks

Markus Leberecht, senior data centre solutions architect, Intel

The big switch to open source

MongoDB’s Mat Keep explained how much we have seen the move to ‘open source first’ now as a primary means of enterprise level software application development OVER AND ABOVE the use of proprietary.

“Using open source products, modules, components used to be an exception and you needed to get special permission to implement it – the opposite reality now exists in many cases and developers will find that they more likely need approval to use proprietary chunks if they feel they need to do so for some reason,” said Keep.

This event certainly drew a few real opinions out of both audience and speakers. Refreshingly, not everybody agreed with each other… this was not a corporate (one might say ‘proprietary’) over-rehearsed set of practiced hyperbole. One might suggest that this reflects the true nature of open source and its fluid dynamic nature.

Controlled chaos, in a good way

According to Rackspace’s Igor Ljubuncic, “Open source could be controlled chaos in some ways depending on how you look at it, but there is control and management. The most important thing to remember is that when you expose your codebase you have to do a good job or the community can fork your product and make it for themselves, so responsiveness to community needs are very important.”

Red Hat for its part were at pains to explain that it sees itself as a ‘catalyst’ for open source development throughout the community… but that it still exists in a role to be able to ‘harden’ the code in use. What Red Hat’s Percival was eluding to was the process of locking down dynamic libraries for commercial use.

More women needed in open source

As a side note of huge interest… during general discussions it emerged that (according to one statistic) the split between female and male developers is roughly 80% to 20% in favour of males, obviously. But, significantly, that split drops down to 90% to 10% — why that should be is unknown, but it may be a good pointer for where responsibilities lie.

One of the key takeaways from this event focused on exactly what kind of development, creation and implementation realities we will see with open source companies in the real world.

If you are focused on creating one single piece of single function software then it is feasible that one developer or one open source team of developers might create it – but, if we are talking about the need to create a piece of software that works all the way up from base level system networking needs through functionality and presentation layer technologies and onward to operating system integration – and then onward bridging to cloud computing structures and beyond… then this could action could (and potentially should) always turn to a more formalised enterprise model.

Albeit… this enterprise team could (and potentially should) still affirm to open source principals.