There is so much going on in the cloud that very soon everyone will know the difference between PaaS and IaaS. Some feel that cloud computing is a marketing hype but the truth is that there is so much you can do in the cloud and Netflix Open Source (OSS) is an example of that. Why would a company that is in the business for the money want to initiate an Open Source Software project?
There are many reasons why people start an Open Source project. At times, it is about trying to create and generate momentum for an idea. When you take the example of Android and how it has grown rapidly to become one of the most used OS in the mobile world, you understand exactly what momentum is. The primary reason for this is that people were able to integrate it into their hardware without worrying about licenses. Others contributed new features and security fixes that made the software stable and useable. It finally become the standard of choice for anyone working in the smartphone business.
Rapid growth of an idea in a Closed Source Software project is difficult without a lot of resources to back it up or the budget of corporations like Microsoft. That is slightly what the Netflix Open Source (OSS) is all about. Here are some specifics about the project and how Amazon cloud is being used as a catalyst.
Netflix Hystrix is one of the many initiatives that was started to help bolster high availability of computer systems in the cloud by isolating points of access and preventing cascading general system failure. This project was later moved from closed source to OSS so that more people can participate in the development and improve available features.
Netflix Eureka is a load balancing and failover middleware designed for AWS. This is another project that was moved to OSS. Another is Chaos Monkey which can be consider a penetration cloud testing tool. The aim is to help detect a system’s weak spot and help engineers fix the problem while limiting customer’s impact. It is like trying to break into your own house in order to make sure your doors and windows are secure enough to withstand a burglary attempt.
The examples above are tied to Amazon and how to provide a better SaaS, PaaS and IaaS experience. There is still a lot to learn about cloud computing, that is why those involved are constantly looking for ways to improve security and availability. Some years back, AWS went down and a lot of companies were affected by the outage. That is a scary situation for those whose livelihood depends on the cloud. That is why frequent testing and failover scenarios can never be too much. Netflix hopes to contribute by releasing some of its software to the public.
A lot of the middleware that Netflix made available are hosted on github and can be accessed and forked by anyone interested in testing, contributing to the source code or documenting how it can be used. This creates a win-win situation where everyone contributes to the source and can also benefit financially when the software is repacked as a VAS (Value Added Service)for other products running in the cloud.