One problem with the cloud: Obsolescence of applications

Open source can guarantee the longevity of cloud-based applications, says CNET Blog Network contributor Matt Asay.

ReadWriteWeb lists 10 of its favorite Web applications that have disappeared from the Web. In so doing, it calls out a problem with cloud-based applications that lack an open-source license: once they're gone, they're really gone.

I've mentioned before enterprises that have desperately tried to get their proprietary vendors to open-source their code , only to see the vendors go bankrupt and take their code with them. No, having source code access wouldn't necessarily guarantee an easy future for such customers, but not having the source code ensures that there is no future for the product and its long-term utility for the customer.

Savio Rodrigues suggests that source code access is "not all that it's cracked up to be." Try telling that to those that have relied on software only to find it, or its vendor, disappear.

In the cloud, it's even worse, as not only does the vendor disappear but so does all trace of its products. At least in my example above the customer had the perpetual right to the outdated code. In the case of the cloud the vendor's death is simultaneous with the code's demise.

Yes, cloud computing offers tremendous promise. It also has the chance to create significant peril for those that rely upon it. I therefore like the model, used by Loopfuse and others, that provides cloud/software-as-a-service-based software with the backup of an open-source license on that code to enable the code to outlive the vendor of it. Consider it a hedge on the longevity of the software service.


Disclosure: I am an adviser to Loopfuse.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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