Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Open source, turbocharged pace, and cloud

As usual, Adrian Cockcroft has smart things to say in this interview. The whole thing is worth reading but this comment on the pace of change particularly struck me for a couple of reasons.

And we’ve got now a very open-source world that’s moving extremely quickly. Although it’s not strictly cloud as such, the Docker ecosystem is one of the fastest-moving environments that we’ve ever seen. It’s unprecedented how fast it’s moving. About once a week there’s a seismic event where they change it; a Nepal earthquake-size thing happens on a weekly basis, where you have to say, ‘Okay, everything you knew is slightly different.’ So just trying to track what’s going on in that ecosystem is more than a full-time job. And it’s confusing. It’s also very interesting, and the ability to get things done in that ecosystem is evolving extremely quickly. If you say, ‘I can’t do this thing with Docker,’ you’ve got to time-stamp that. Because maybe next week you can, or maybe in a month everyone’s doing it. Things that normally take years are taking more like months.

The first reason is that Adrian is, of course, absolutely spot-on about how quickly things are changing. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that the cloud book I published just a couple of years ago now has major holes in the topics that it covers. While many of the basic concepts and their historical antecedents remain valid, containers (to choose the most glaring example) are wholly absent along with all the associated packaging and orchestration work in projects like Docker and Kubernetes. While "It’s the future" is mostly intended to be humorous, it also makes a certain serious point about the rapid swizzling and roiling of software stacks happening today.

Adrian also observes that all of this is happening within a largely open source environment. I’d argue that the rate of experimentation and advance wouldn’t be remotely possible otherwise. All the things coming together around containers and hybrid clouds from DevOps to microservices to internet-of-things to platform-as-a-service are fundamentally made possible by the rapid innovation and ability to recombine software that open source makes possible. It’s no coincidence that we’re seeing this Cambrian explosion taking place in an increasingly open source-anchored and dominated computing world.

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