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Fontango COO votes with his feet: no open source, no future

Fontango's COO has quit over his company's about-face on a decision to open source its technology. What risks have you taken lately?

Somehow I missed this surprising move by Fontango's COO during OSCON. He quit. The keynote was going swimmingly, and then Simon Wardley (then COO) quit. I really wish I would have seen that.


Because his employer had abruptly changed course on its plans to open source some of the company's technology. This might have been less painful had Wardley not traveled to OSCON specifically to announce the move, and had he not felt as strongly about its importance as he did:

Wardley urged the creation of an open transport layer for data that would allow customers to move their applications and information between service providers "without exit costs", picking a given utility based on its price or performance....

According to Wardley, a successful, open utility computing layer will depend on open standards - namely the General Public License v3 (GPL), which Wardley pointed to again and again.

"Open source is not a tactic. It is not a strategy. It is the only practical way of competing in this marketplace."

And, importantly for Wardley, open source is apparently the best way to ensure that the future of utility computing doesn't become a mass of silos, each computing cluster operating separately such that a buyer is locked into its utility forever.

Worth quitting over? Apparently, yes. One could argue that Wardley could have done more good within the company than without, but I've been in his shoes, and it's hard to move an organization that doesn't want to move.