From Red Shoes To Red Hat

OpenShiftI have been advocating cloud and services based architecture for several years. I come to cloud evangelism and analyst role with some ops background. The first thing I learned about cloud is that we cannot take anything for granted. Before I came into IT, I was a Physicist by training and was doing research in Theoretical Physics. After I moved out of Physics, I started studying complex systems, mainly, to understand the dynamics in open source communities and the society. My biggest takeaway from the study of complex systems is that the only thing that is constant in the world is change. This brings into focus a big change that is happening in my life right now.

I am joining Red Hat on July 8th as Director, OpenShift Strategy.

From here, I want to shift gears and take a Q&A approach:

1) So, you sold out?

Nope. I am not denying that I will be part of Red Hat and I will do everything to help their financial bottom-line. I am not delusional about it. However, what defined me in the industry was my “independent” opinions. While I don the Red Hat, I will also have an independent persona talking about various aspect of technology and industry in an “unbiased” way. I am not the first one to wear two different hats. We have J. P. Rangaswami at Salesforce, Robert Scoble at Rackspace, Matt Asay at 10Gen, James Urquhart and Bernard Golden at Dell (formerly enStratius), David Linthicum at CloudTP, etc. doing the same thing I am trying to do now. We even have other pundits like Ben Kepes who is an advisor to ActiveState and an investor in many other startups. I am just following the footsteps of other people in the industry. What finally matters is whether you are independent enough to maintain the credibility or lose it fast. I am keenly aware that the trust layer between me and my readers is an unfollow button. While I wear the Red Hat, I will also maintain my independent persona to a reasonable extent.

2) Why Red Hat?

Ever since I started Rishidot Research to focus on the services world, I have been getting offers from various vendors to join their team. I never gave any serious thought to it because of two things, One, I liked what I was doing with Rishidot Research. Second, and most importantly, I have advocated so many ideas vociferously in the blogs, twitter and various fora, I was worried about hurting my credibility by joining a vendor and advocating against my own words. Thatz why I spurned some job offers from some of the biggest public cloud vendors in the beginning stage itself. When Red Hat gave me a call sometime back, my initial thinking was the same concerns I had for other offers but when I thought about the offer, I realized that Red Hat’s philosophy matched perfectly well with my own and my public advocacy. More importantly, the way Red Hat approached me and made me comfortable with the idea of considering the opportunity, I felt really comfortable with them as an organization. Here, I have to specifically thank Ashesh Badani (GM, Cloud Business Unit, Red Hat) and Don Farr (Director of Recruiting, Red Hat) for the way they broached the topic and took me through all my concerns. From then on, it was an easy decision for me. We spoke and found each other interesting and here I am, getting ready to join the OpenShift team and rock the PaaS world.

3) But, why Red Hat?

People who know me very well can clearly see how I fit well with Red Hat. I have long advocated open source. My first date with Open Source goes to 1996 when I first installed Slackware Linux on a 486 machine using 50+ floppy disks. In fact, when Red Hat launched Fedora more than a decade back, I was the second member to get on the editorial team (a fedora advocacy group at that time) to promote Fedora. In fact till Fedora 9, it was my desktop operating system. So when I was thinking about starting a company offering support services for open source software at a time when many vendors except Red Hat (and few others may be) were not aware of business opportunities in open source, the first book I reached out was Under the Radar by Robert Young (then CEO of Red Hat). I have been influenced by Red Hat for a long time.

4) But, again, why Red Hat?

To put it bluntly, Red Hat is the ONLY Billion+ dollar business in open source. They have shown the world how to make money in open source. It could have stayed in history books as an exception in the market economy driven by the economics of scarcity. However, recent progress in technology is pushing us to a world of abundance. Any entrepreneur who is gonna be successful in the market driven by economics of abundance is gonna learn from Red Hat’s playbook. Like Wright Brothers who showed the world that “humans can fly”, Red Hat showed the world that you can make more than billion dollars from open source and stay successful. By joining Red Hat, I am getting an opportunity to be part of a fantastic team that has enlightened millions of future entrepreneurs.

Editor’s Note: This is the answer the questioner was looking for :-)

5) Why OpenShift?

I have been bullish on PaaS as the Future of Cloud Services from April of 2010 onwards. To make it happen, I even ran a conference focussed exclusively on PaaS by name Deploycon. It makes sense to be part of the OpenShift team and push PaaS into enterprises as a right way to do IT. The fact that OpenShift team is luring many in the PaaS community including my colleague from the PaaS advocacy days, Diane Mueller, made it easy for me to hop on.

6) What are you going to do at Red Hat?

I will be part of the OpenShift team, Red Hat’s PaaS offering. I will be helping the awesome engineers who are building a robust platform in whatever way I can help with their strategy. I will also be helping them on their messaging. Recently, we all came to know from Paypal that they are using OpenShift to build an agile IT that helps them compete in the services world. Paypal is a financial organization and OpenShift powers the platform on the customer facing side. We all know that financial industry is a heavily regulated industry. If Paypal trusts OpenShift for their underlying platform, it talks volumes about the OpenShift platform. In the coming weeks, months and years, we are going to hear more and more stories from OpenShift customers. It is going to emerge as one of the competitive players in the industry and I am excited to be part of the team.

7) What happens to Rishidot Research, Deploycon and CloudAve?

Rishidot Research ceases to be an analyst firm and will turn into a research community. We will be publishing research reports, blog posts, etc.. I won’t be taking any clients anymore. However, if anyone is interested in engaging other analysts who contribute research to Rishidot Research, they can do so by contacting them directly. You can also contact us to reach any analyst in the team. We will try to get more analysts to contribute to the research community. The limited paywall we have will be removed completely. Vendors are free to use any of our reports for publications as long as they comply with CC by SA 3.0 license. Rishidot Research will remain “vendor neutral” (to the best of my conscience) and all my OpenShift related writings will be published on OpenShift properties.

I will run Deploycon next year. I will try to rally the PaaS community to support me in this attempt. If you had attended or watched Deploycon in 2012 or 2013, you might have noticed that I go to stage mostly for welcoming the audience and thanking them later. All the panels were moderated by industry colleagues and I had my “PaaS conscience” and friend, James Urquhart, to MC the event. We even had analysts from competing firms moderate our panel. My aim then was vendor neutral PaaS advocacy and it is going to be the same in 2014. The content, speakers, etc.. will be decided by a completely vendor neutral team and I am planning to ask Alex Williams and other industry colleagues to help me on this. I will continue to run vendor neutral Deploycon as long as my industry colleagues trust me and support me. Let us see how it goes.

I will still continue to write on CloudAve on industry topics. It is going to continue till Zoli Erdos, publisher of CloudAve, kicks me out :-)

8) What about AR and PR wanting to contact you?

The fact that I am not an analyst takes AR out of the equation. I cannot be bound by NDA and hence I am pretty sure AR teams are not interested in contacting me any more. I perfectly understand the dynamics there and actively discourage AR from contacting me. However, I am open to PR sending me the press release as I am going to continue with my independent writing at Rishidot Research and CloudAve. I do respect embargoes but if you are sending NDA material, I am not responsible. I do not encourage you to send any material that requires even frieNDA. I won’t be taking any briefings on any news but if I am interested in talking to any vendor on any news, I will contact the respective PR/marketing person for setting up a briefing after the news is public. Rarely, I might need such briefing for my analysis of the industry.

I am pretty excited to join the OpenShift team and pretty excited to continue engaging with cloud community going forward. Please ping me if you have any questions or clarification.

Open Source And Governance

Yesterday, Stephen O’ Grady from Redmonk wrote a great post addressing the role of foundations in the post Github world. He was trying to address the potential confusion among the role of open source foundations and version control systems. This reminds me of some of the arguments I heard from developers (and even some vendors) on open source.

I have come across some developers and vendors who think that dropping their source code on Github makes their project open source. In the early days of Web 2.0, we saw vendors opening up their APIs touting support for open APIs only to lock them down with restrictions once they realized that it costs money to open up their APIs or it even affects their own bottom-line. We have seen the drastic impact of unilateral changes made by them to address the issue on their ecosystem. People are slowly understanding that API dynamics involves much more than exposing their API over the internet. It involves cost, legal issues, etc. that comes along with exposing the API for any service. Though late, vendors are much more smarter on their API strategy these days.

It is even more important to consider such aspects when sharing the source code of a project. Before even sharing your code on Github, it is important to make sure copyrights are not violated and there are no legal issues associated with the shared code. After the source code is shared, apart from the license part of the code, it is also important to define the governance related to code. Governance is critical not only in protecting the source code but also in establishing trust with contributing developers and users.

In the past, with software like desktop operating systems, content management systems, etc., most of the end users of OSS were apathetic to the rights they had and, for most part, they were very happy with the availability of the source code. Some enthusiastic users participated in the mailing lists and forums suggesting features, promoting and helping fellow users. Even some contributing developers were apathetic to lack of any governance because, in the past, not many of the OSS projects ended up making money for the vendors. However, things changed drastically in the last decade.

More and more vendors realized that they can monetize open source and make a living out of it. Many other vendors were forced to embrace open source due to the market forces. More and more open source projects became vendor controlled OSS projects. Developers contributing to open source projects have started worrying about whether their contribution is at the mercy of the whims and fancies of the vendor controlling the project. They are also worried about vendor monetizing their hard work and cutting them off the loop (eg: issues related to MySQL acquisition).

Similarly, a shift happened in the open source user landscape as well. As we move into the services world, the end users of open source software changed from the ordinary Joes and Janes to enterprise IT and service providers. Unlike the apathetic Joes and Janes of the traditional software era, the use of open source software by enterprise IT and SPs are driven by the motivation that the open source nature of the product/project will empower them to participate in the software development process and even help them to nudge the direction of the project in the right direction. More than anything else, enterprise IT and SPs rely on OSS these days due to the “power” they get in the design and development of the software they use.

The changed developer mindset and the newer end user requirements puts project governance at the center of any credible open source project. Everything else comes next to governance. Unfortunately, today’s mindset among some developers and vendors is that source code on Github alone will help them attain the open source nirvana. They are either ignorant about the importance of governance or willfully ignore its importance. It is going to hurt everyone involved in the project in the long term.

In short, if you are a developer wanting to contribute your time and sweat to any open source project or an end user (enterprise IT or SP) wanting to invest your money and time on an open source project, the first question you should ask is “Have you got governance in place?”. If the answer is no, my humble suggestion is “Run Forrest, Run”. Good night and good luck.

Briefing Notes: CloudVelocity

This is a briefing note prepared by Lori Macvittie on CloudVelocity, a company offering hybrid cloud automation software.

Abstract: Cloud Velocity technology is designed to manage automated migration of applications in hybrid cloud environments as well as on- boarding enterprise applications to public cloud computing environments.

To download the briefing note, you need to sign up as a free subscriber. Check out this page for signing up as a free subscriber. Once you sign up for your account and log in, you will see a download link to the briefing note.

Webinar Series On Federated Clouds And Marketplaces

Rishidot Research and 6fusion (Disclosure: Rishidot Research Client) are hosting a series of webinars talking about federated clouds, usecases, unit of compute, the notion of marketplaces and how they fit in, etc.. The first webinar in this series will be held on June 5th 2013 and the second webinar on June 26th 2013. The topic for the webinars are given below:

  • Federated Clouds, Agile IT and the Unit for Compute: In this webinar, we will discuss the notion of federated clouds, the business and technical benefits of federated clouds and the need to have an unit of compute which enables federated clouds and makes the consumption by enterprise IT friction-less. This webinar, presented by Krishnan Subramanian of Rishidot Research, will be held on June 5th 2013 at 10:00 AM PST / 1:00 PM EST.
  • Cloud Federation and Marketplaces – Smarter IT economics for the services world: In this follow up webinar, we will introduce the idea of marketplaces and talk about how it helps enterprise IT take advantage of better economics offered by such marketplaces and exchanges. This webinar, presented by Krishnan Subramanian along with executives from 6fusion and other industry luminaries, will be held on June 26th, 2013 at 10:00 AM PST / 1:00 PM EST.

You can register for these webinars using the form below and if you have any questions, please contact us.

If the above form doesn’t work, please click here for the registration form.

Join Us AT Cloud2020 To Talk About The Future Of Infrastructure Services

Cloud202_Logo_FinalWe are hearing about infrastructure commoditization for sometime now. We are hearing about how infrastructure will end up like dumb pipes and action is going to be on the layers above the infrastructure stack. On the other hand, we are seeing traditional infrastructure vendors confident about their future and even bullish about how they are going to dominate the future of IT. What is the reality? What is going to be the reality in the year 2020? As a rational person and someone who doesn’t believe in superstition, I am pretty sure we cannot predict how the infrastructure services will look like in 2020 but I am confident that with enough intelligent minds inside a room surrounded by machine gun toting ex-marines (yup, the event is going to be held inside Switch SuperNAP), we can come up with a decent theory on where things are headed.

Announcing Cloud2020 Summit, a congregation of smart minds in the infrastructure space talking about where infrastructure services are headed and, possibly, come to a conclusion on the topic. This is an invite only event where we plan to have equal number of vendors, customers and pundits so that we hear many different perspectives on this important topic. If you are interested in attending the event, I encourage you to apply here and our advisory committee will decide on the applications and send the invitations. Looking forward to seeing you in Vegas next month.