|By Simon Phipps||
|August 27, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
A guest asked a question that often crops up; 'Sun is giving so much source-code to open source (Project Looking Glass and Solaris the most recent announcements), how will it ever monetize these donations - how can you make money if you keep giving stuff away?' It's a good question. At its heart lies a misunderstanding about the nature of open source software, and once that's cleared up everything falls into place much more easily. The paradox - profiting from what is given away - is actually one many of us participate in every day in another area of our lives.
Open Source Development in Overview
Open source software development is best defined using the phrase coined by Professor Yochai Benkler - "commons-based peer production". Open source development uses a pool of software assets that is held in common by a community - termed a 'commons' by Professor Lawrence Lessig - which is enhanced and expanded over time. The community is comprised of peer experts of all kinds, each with a status reflecting only their abilities - age, previous achievements elsewhere, employer or external factors such as race or politics should be irrelevant. The community is focussed on production of software - "code talks, talk doesn't code".
Then for each aspect there is a facilitator.
- The Commons is facilitated by a license that grants the rights that the community needs to function. The license will offer unrestricted access to the source code that comprises the commons, unrestrained by either payment requirements (gratis) or usage restrictions (libre).
The peer nature of the community is facilitated by the governance model of the community. This is often overlooked but it's just as important as the license. Good governance will for example result in the power to permanently change the contents of the commons (the power to 'commit' changes, exercised by a 'committer') being held only by those the community respects as best qualified.
The key to quality thus lies in governance. Bill Joy pointed out that no-one can hire all the smart people; open source development gathers them together and recognises the smartest as committers. The quality of good open source software comes not from many hands being involved but from the best being given the keys to the commons.
- The production of software from the commons is facilitated both by the license and the governance.
It's worth noting that the focus of an open source community is development - none of the freedoms required of a software deployer (such as strict compatibility with externally-defined standards, essential if the freedom to switch to a different software solution is to be preserved) are explicit objectives. All the time that open source software has been the preserve of developer-deployers there's been no issue, but as it becomes more widely used by deployers with no interest in development, the need for new ways to provide deployers with their necessary freedoms will grow.
What freedoms do deployers need? They're actually rather traditional:
- Function that meets actual business needs
- Freedom to change supplier, so that prices can always be negotiated
- Freedom to choose new software solutions as business needs evolve
- Control of the data, by implication control of the format it's stored in
- Protection from liabilities associated with the development of the software
Software derived from an open source community may or may not meet these requirements. For many companies, there has been an initial rush based on the abilities of skilled and visionary employees to obtain software gratis from open source communities but increasingly CIOs are realizing this doesn't secure all the freedoms they need for long-term business. They're turning to commercial suppliers to act as their intermediaries with the open source communities - "they join the community so we don't have to."
Just Like The Newspapers
The model Sun is developing for giving customers the benefits they need using open source is illustrated well by Sun's Java Desktop System (JDS). JDS comprises many software elements drawn from a wide range of open source communities. To understand what's happening, let's consider the newspaper industry.
Newspapers haven't been killed off by the Internet (at least, not yet!). The reason for this is that when we buy a newspaper, we're not buying the news. These days the news is free (gratis) - we can go online and read newsfeeds from organizations like Reuters or the Associated Press, or original reporting from an organization like the BBC. When I buy a newspaper like 'USA Today' or 'The Independent', I am actually buying an editorial style. The editor-in-chief for the newspaper sets the outlook, and then the editors and other staff select the news stories, phrase the reports, position them in the publication and perform the lay-out in support of that editorial outlook. If I go online to get the news, I have to do the work of selecting and filtering the news, and I may not always be aware of the biases of the source I am using. To get an aggregation of the news I want delivered in a style that helps me and with biases I understand, I subscribe to a newspaper.
JDS is just like this. Almost all the elements that comprise it - the Mozilla browser, the Evolution mail and calendar client, the StarOffice document productivity suite, the underlying GNU/Linux operating system they depend on, the Gnome desktop environment they use and much more - come from open source communities. You could go get all those parts yourself - they are all available gratis. But then you'd have to integrate them yourself, support them yourself, accept joint liability for their use of ideas yourself.
Instead, Sun acts like the editor-in-chief of the JDS 'publication.' Staff select the software components to include and exclude, work to integrate them, constribute to each of the open source communities to improve their compatibility and completeness. Sun packages and delivers the final publication, offers support and updates, fixes security exposures, offers indemnity and generally joins the communities so you don't have to.
You don't buy the software from Sun - instead you subscribe to the editorial outlook. Sun's editorial view is to deliver high function, ease of use, data format and networking compatibility, low migration cost, re-use of existing hardware, escape from Windows viruses and security risks and minimal retraining. If that's an editorial outlook that fits your corporate needs, you'd do well to subscribe.
To take the analogy further, you're not just subscribing to a publication that's tightly bound together between stitched hard-covers. JDS is more like a publication delivered in a ring-binder on punched paper. You're free to insert extra pages - add software like Wine to allow existing Windows applications to run, for example. You're free to remove pages you don't need. You're free to substitute pages where you have another preference (maybe you'd rather use the new Firefox browser?)
Resolving the Paradox
Perhaps it's clearer now why Sun donates software to open source communities. It's not a matter of 'giving away'. Instead, Sun is joining with the other smart folks out there and contributing to the commons of many communities to create and enhance the pool of software from which 'publications' such as JDS are then derived. Sun has always believed that business success comes not from eliminating competitors or always 'coming first' but from creating marketplaces in which Sun and others can all succeed - "a rising tide lifts all boats."
There will be other 'publications' you could choose - you could even assemble your own if you wish. But the right editorial outlook at the right subscription price will allow Sun to monetize its software investment more effectively than a closed sale of a sealed product ever could in our new, massively connected society.
|Pierre-Yves Gibello 08/31/04 12:54:34 PM EDT|
French translation of this article on http://gibello.com/publi/transl/articles/linuxworld_270804_sun_os.html
Any comments are welcome, before I eventually make this URL more public for french readers.
|clarifier 08/29/04 03:01:15 AM EDT|
I was just corrected on the definition of "non-exclusive" in a license, and I am wrong in my assumption.
Can't delete my post, so I'm admitting my mistake.
|clarifier 08/28/04 06:58:04 PM EDT|
Ahh, but the GPL is not a "non exclusive" license - the exclusivity of it is that you must agree to abide by it's rules. This excludes those who wish to not pass on the work they have benefited from, charge fess and or licenses, etc.
As such, your point is moot.
|cybervegan 08/28/04 06:01:24 PM EDT|
We will see. IBM (and hundreds of other F/OSS companies) wouldn't be betting the farm on it if it was that unclear - they have very smart lawyers whose bread and butter is Licenses and Contracts, so if they don't understand it better than you (unless you are a lawyer), they're in the wrong job.
I won't be posting any more replies to this thread as you're obviously just trolling.
|daniel wallace 08/28/04 03:40:58 PM EDT|
> The GPL, however, is a license (most definately NOT a
OK I admit it's a LICENSE...
Here's what the Federal Appellate Courts hold about your
"Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a nonexclusive
See the "Generally, a 'copyright owner who grants a
Presumably someone wishes the GPL to be enforcable... so its
Perhaps you should contact the Second, Fifth and Ninth
|cybervegan 08/28/04 02:41:19 PM EDT|
>Unfortunately this license description is prohibited by
If it's the GPL you are referring to, then you are totally mistaken. The GPL depends copyright law, but does not alter or circumvent it in any way. Copyright law says that without written permission from the copyright owner, you have no rights to duplicate or otherwise reproduce a copyrighted work (apart from the notion of 'fair use') or to produce derivative works of it. Copyright is not an 'applied for' right (like patents) - it is automatic , and immediately granted upon the fixing of a work in tangible form (i.e. you can't copyright thoughts, only an 'impression' of them).
GPL software is copyrighted just like any other work. You have no rights under standard copyright law to copy it or form derivatives. The GPL, however, is a license (most definately NOT a contract) and grants you additional rights providing that you accept its terms - these additional rights include those of copying and deriving new works. As long as you accept the terms, and do not breach any of its conditions, you are entitled to exercise the additional rights that it grants you. You must, however, release any copies or derivatives under the same license terms, so that no-one is ever able to remove the existing rights of others to a GPL'ed work. In this way, it operates similarly to any other license agreement or EULA - without which you would have no right to use any licensed software. If copyright law worked the way you suggest, then no-one would ever be able to use any copyrighted material for any reason whatsoever - clearly not what the law is intended to mean.
Because it is a LICENSE, there is no requirement for payment. Unlike a contract, nothing needs to be signed, and nothing needs to be exchanged. Also, there is no expectation on the part of the LICENSOR for any consideration in respect of the LICENSE. The license also only comes into operation at the point at which you "distribute" a copy or derivative, meaning that you can keep as many personal copies or make personal derivatives as you like, but once you distribute, you have an obligation to provide the source-code upon request. It really is that simple - and so say the courts, too, both internationally and in the US.
There is nothing illegal or unenforceable about the GPL.
Hope that helps.
|Alex Theodore 08/28/04 01:45:40 PM EDT|
I don''t think Sun has a lot to loose by going to the subscription based software model. When were they really making lots of money from selling Solaris? Buying Solaris was sort of a give me when purchasing one of their big boxes. I mean who really runs Sparc Linux on a Sun Fire?
For the past few years they have basically been giving away Solaris ($99 CD media kit)? Then Sun moved to a free downloads of Solaris on their website. Where Sun has been making fists full of money (in my opinion) is the support fees. Having a Sun Spectrum Silver (or better) support account entitles you a RTU for Solaris on your supported systems, contract/public updates, etc.. So in essence this is pretty much the same thing as a JDS subscription. I guess the difference lies that now you can poke around in the source, and the community can contribute fixes/features.
So I guess I don''t see all they hype.. seems like the same stuff, just repackaged... perhaps I don''t get it.
|daniel wallace 08/28/04 08:30:00 AM EDT|
>The Commons is facilitated by a license that grants the
Unfortunately this license description is prohibited by
|been there, done that 08/27/04 02:36:26 PM EDT|
This is not an original idea - even in the software world.
Microsoft for many years has already sold countless subscriptions to their MSDN.
Of course the OS is, itself, a subscription with ''issues'' every 2-3 years..
95, 98, 2000, etc..
|Rajesh Jayaprakash 08/27/04 12:01:31 PM EDT|
Somehow, I am not convinced. It''s all very well to talk of a subscription-based business model, but I don''t think Sun can hope to gain a lot of revenue from something like the Java Desktop System (BTW, I consider Sun''s using ''Java'' in a product that has nothing to with Java pretty despicable, but hey, it''s their trademark). There are plenty of distros that already offer the goodies in the JDS [*]. May be I am missing something here, but I fail to see what differentiates Sun from other such vendors (other than the fact that Sun can call it the ''Java'' Desktop System).
Re: "Sun''s editorial view is to deliver high function, ease of use, data format and networking compatibility, low migration cost, re-use of existing hardware, escape from Windows viruses and security risks and minimal retraining." Nope, nothing unique here. If you remove Sun''s name from the above sentence and replace it with, say, Red Hat''s, nobody would notice.
|cybervegan 08/27/04 11:33:04 AM EDT|
Why has SUN been so inconsistent about its F/OSS alignment? It appears very "now we we will, now we won''t" at times.
Furthermore, why is the GPL nature of SUN JDS so stealthily hidden on the distribution CD? Why is the language used in the License so vague? Anyone buying this product would assume that they don''t have a right to the source code *or* to copy the software. Most of the operating system is GNU licensed, and a small proportion is SUN owned, so we understand that those bits we can''t copy, but why does SUN have to mislead people in this way, or has this changed?
SUN may have given us OpenOffice, and for that we''re thankful (the measure of how thankful is the continued development and improvement of it). At one point, I thought SUN had actually "got it" about F/OSS. I recently downloaded the SUN Java Runtime Environment, and read the License. Talk about invasive.
Pamela Jones of Groklaw.net said of the SUN Java Desktop: "There are so many restrictions that the license requires a booklet of amendments listing all the other things you can''t do under this or that special circumstance. The wording, he says, is unusually complex, and he suggests you have your legal eagles look the license over before you even consider making a buying recommendation on it. "
Makes you wonder. The F/OSS community will not praise SUN for such plundering - it seems that SUN is disregarding the very community it is taking from to produce the Java Desktop.
What a shame.
|MyDreamComeTrue 08/27/04 07:06:16 AM EDT|
So, after Solaris from Sun is open-sourced, all we need now is for MSFT to open up the file formats for Word documents so that programs like OpenOffice can correctly decode the formatting and we''ll all be waltzing toward the new promised land
Mr Simon Phipps, we like the sound of this!!
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jul. 31, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,041
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Jul. 30, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,336
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 30, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,943
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 30, 2016 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,497
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Jul. 30, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,318
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jul. 30, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,777
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Jul. 30, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,311
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Jul. 30, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,128
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 30, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,283
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Jul. 30, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 986
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Jul. 30, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,416
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Jul. 30, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,129
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Jul. 30, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,530
ReadyTalk has expanded the capabilities of the FoxDen collaboration platform announced late last year to include FoxDen Connect, an in-room video collaboration experience that launches with a single touch. With FoxDen Connect, users can now not only engage in HD video conferencing between iOS and Android mobile devices or Chrome browsers, but also set up in-person meeting rooms for video interactions. A host’s mobile device automatically recognizes the presence of a meeting room via beacon tech...
Jul. 30, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 564
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jul. 30, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,192
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...
Jul. 30, 2016 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,667
On Dice.com, the number of job postings asking for skill in Amazon Web Services increased 76 percent between June 2015 and June 2016. Salesforce.com saw its own skill mentions increase 37 percent, while DevOps and Cloud rose 35 percent and 28 percent, respectively. Even as they expand their presence in the cloud, companies are also looking for tech professionals who can manage projects, crunch data, and figure out how to make systems run more autonomously. Mentions of ‘data science’ as a skill ...
Jul. 30, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 649
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
Jul. 30, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 805
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Jul. 30, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,434
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Jul. 30, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 741