[Beowulf] General cluster management tools - Re: Southampton engineers a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Sep 24 08:07:10 PDT 2012

FWIW:  This is what I was worried would happen to Lustre last year with
3 different organizations driving it.  Coming together and merging efforts made the community stronger.  The GE community needs to do that as well, though, I am not convinced it would happen.

That said, I stand by my thesis that open source is lower risk.  Open source is not "hosted on sourceforge, github, ...".  Open source is redistribution and changes aren't disallowed, rather encouraged, and there is no hiding changes.  This allows you to build communities, lower risk to participants of that community.  Fracturing the community does increase risk.

Use GridEngine (GE) as an object lesson for what happens when a code owner decides to take their marbles and go their own way.  If you have a business dependency upon this code, your risk just skyrocketed.  If you have an open source version that you depend upon, and the code owner goes away, or decides to start in on the iOS app market rather than work on the product you need, you are not up a proverbial creek without a proverbial paddle.  You can *choose* to hire someone (including allocation of your own, or your teams time) to support the product. 
That is, you have the choice, and you are not beholden to the business change decisions of another.  That is, you have decoupled your risk from their choices.  Which reduces vendor lockin, end user risk due to changes in business condition, etc.

---> what about the possibility that closed source (because of the underlying revenue model) might provide you with the product you need, as opposed to not having it all (because nobody in the open source community is interested in producing what you need).  You might not have the resources to self develop (or maintain, for that matter).  Even a very small number of unit sales (10-100) allows for a reasonable "per unit" cost.  (100 copies at $10k per copy is $1M, which is a lot more development resources than the $10k, or even $100k)

This isn't saying that closed source is evil/bad/wrong.  I don't believe this.  I do believe that you have to make informed choices, and perform cost benefit analyses.  And more to the point, you have to have a plan "B" in place in case the company you depend upon does, in fact, get hit by a bus.

---> And open source, in general, is a better "hit by a bus" risk mitigation, particularly if the product is dependent on a smallish number of people.  

What open source does is lower the impact to you, if they (the vendor) gets hit by that run-away mass transit vehicle.

--> I'm not sure I agree with that statement.  I would say that it lowers the impact if you've made no other plans (i.e. it's a decent "default" strategy)

--> There are other reasons open source is nice: for instance, it greatly reduces the probability of threatened litigation with respect to employees coming and going if the source code isn't a trade secret.  If you're hiring someone who comes from an open source shop, it's less likely you (or your customers) get letters from the previous employer describing vague and nameless potential problems if you should happen to hire this person. 

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