SpikeSource: Productised Open Source Software

SpikeSource was one of the companies that came out of stealth mode at the Web 2.0 conference. It is interesting what their vision is:

IT faces unprecedented challenges and cost pressures today. Software license costs are out of control. Customers demand more flexibility than traditional proprietary software relationships allow, especially when application code and data are locked into a proprietary system. IT faces the burden of implementing and maintaining overly complex solutions whose selection may have had more to do with the promises of vendors’ pre-sales engineers than with the extensibility and manageability of the solutions they promoted.

A powerful alternative to vendors-as-usual has begun to emerge in the IT customer community. Enterprises have begun deploying open source solutions that work as well or better than the commercial systems they replace. IT is finding that the open source approach dramatically reduces not only software acquisition costs, but deployment and infrastructure costs as well, as these solutions scale across a wide variety of hardware that organizations often already owns. As more and more enterprises, government agencies and educational institutions deploy open source systems, their shared efforts further accelerate the pace of innovation and increase reliability. A powerful virtuous cycle has been born with tremendous implications for IT.

However, adoption of open source software has its own set of challenges. There are over 85,000 open source projects in existence today and quality and capabilities vary dramatically across all these efforts. While each of these projects solves a problem, the frequent releases of many open source projects mean that version mismatch is a continuous headache. IT is never certain which versions of which projects will actually work together in a reliable manner. IT demands support, documentation, and extreme reliability, yet open source projects rarely see the traditional rigor of software management. There is no formal product management, no disciplined release plan, and no integration testing with the thousands of other open source projects they need to work flawlessly with. Above all, support is informal at best, and where to go for help with cross-component problems isn’t always clear. Customers want to hold someone accountable. But whom?

This is the opportunity that inspired SpikeSource.

Robert Scoble summarises what Kim Polese, the CEO of SpikeSource, had to say at Web 2.0:

Specifically she sees two trends are happening. Software business and way software is getting built is going through enormous change. The architecture of software is undergoing enormous change. When that happens a renaissance is underway.

To come down a notch from that, what is happening in the software business as she sees it is that the open source world has flooded the world with components. That she’s seeing rapid innovation in software process automation to assembly.

That the traditional way of doing business — top down control and vertically integrated set of products — is being disrupted by open source and community-involved software projects.

She says that wikis, podcasting, are powerful examples of what happens when developers get together with users and that the speed with which innovation is happening and the speed of which users are trying these tools and adopting them is changing the industry under our feet.

I think it would be a good idea to put open-source software on a centralised computing platform: an OSS grid, as it were. And then provide virtual machines for developers. That is one of the things we want to do in Emergic.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.