Open means a lot to me. I was one of the lucky kids that caught the cusp of the open source explosion in the early 90s. Ah the memories of spending nights porting source code from SunOS to Linux. And really, you cant appreciate the miracle of modern installers until you’ve toasted a monitor trying to manually configure X-Windows on Linux 0.93. Yeah, I knew how to party.

But what was really awesome about Linux (and later, the web) wasn’t the tech itself. It was that its open nature made it a powerful platform for all kinds of development and commerce. Countless businesses were built on Linux and billions of dollars of innovation spurred as a result. Think about this: your new TV is probably booting Linux underneath.

So as conversation of cloud platforms filled the hallways of Citrix, the word “open” was quickly seen as an integral part of the conversation. Why? It is impossible for a single vendor to build an end to end system that meets all the possible needs of all possible users when discussing the cloud. Thus, the right kind of open is the one that provides a platform for broad innovation by countless contributors. This kind of open protects IP when necessary, encourages open development when possible, and provides a path to building businesses. The result: developers can make this their day jobs, service providers can taylor software to their markets, and enterprises can find the necessary support to meet SLAs.

In the case of OpenCloud, “open” takes multiple forms to spur innovation. Take OpenStack as an example – with its fully open source code and innovation-friendly license, 34 major contributors have already come to the table to start building their components onto that platform. Similarly, OpenFlow which leverages both open source and open protocols has triggered a huge volume of interest in the networking community and is quickly aligning itself to be the platform of choice for large scale networking in virtual environments. What is currently a project at Stanford is likely to become the platform that will see Enterprise-class products in the coming years with early adopters like Citrix NetScaler already demonstrating interoperability this year.

Because both OpenCloud and OpenStack stand on the shoulders of giants like Linux, Xen, and countless open source developer tools, they present technologies that anyone with a PC and talent can download, tackle, and innovate upon so the global community, from individuals to multinational corporations, can participate.  Like my early days of open source, this feels like we’re at the cusp of something great with the right pieces coming together. Working on OpenCloud is going to be awesome.

Time to go talk to my developers… We have new products to build.

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Catch me talking about OpenCloud at Synergy Berlin 2010 in the SYN210 breakout session.