Free Software and Open Source Symposium
Presenter: Stephen Tong
Stephen Tong is a Master’s of Information student at the University of Toronto. While programming isn't exactly his “thing”, his general interest in Open Source as well as Bitcoin led him to the investigation as to why Bitcoin has actually started to succeed where many other attempts at Digital/Online Currency failed. Stephen explained the phenomenon that surrounds Satoshi Nakamoto, the dubbed founder (or founders…) of the Bitcoin protocol and software. The purpose as he stated from his presentation was to find out how Bitcoin started from an idea, leading to an experiment and now resulting in actual currency.
Presenter: Kent Poots
Kent Poots is a man of many talents. Kent is a software engineer and Seneca College teacher who has industry experience dealing with hardware/software interfacing among most software platforms (naming Linux as his specialty) and he is also a PhD student at York University. His genuine interest is in virtualization which is what led him to development with OpenStack. Cloud computing is gaining popularity and Kent realizes this. The “cloud” is everywhere and people are using it everyday when they google something, use an online storage provider or even stream media; and they may not even be realizing they are using the “cloud”. He explains that the popularity of the cloud’s use among users lies primarily in the SaaS( software as a service) tier of potential uses. While there is also PaaS (Platform as a Service) which could be the use of Google’s App Engine, He focuses on the lowest and most unused tier of the cloud capabilities which is IaaS (infrastructure as a service). The idea with OpenStack is to provide an operating system and full virtualization capabilities through the cloud; an open source Cloud Operating System. The big question that Kent wants to answer is how will the implementation scale from 10 instances to 1000?
Between both presentations it was clear to see that both projects have reached a successful point because of the open source community. When these projects reach the open source community, it gives the project a chance for users to see what is available to them and to align their needs to it. With Bitcoin, once Satoshi (Satoshi Nakamoto was rumored to be either one person or could have also been a group of developers) had completed his “Cathedral” Bitcoin system, it was through the use of forums and the Bitcoin mailing list that others started gaining interest in his new currency system. It was in December 2009 that his (or their..?) release 0.2 had been given to the hands of the open source community and development had begun to take off. For OpenStack, users and companies (such as Red Hat and Nasa) realized a need for enterprise level Virtualization to help manage tasks such as Remote Server communication, etc. Once companies and users could realize that they could grab the code for this purpose, they could then begin to tailor the available tools to meet their needs. It was this that led to the development of the many main components necessary to run OpenStack strongly and securely. Because OpenStack was open source software, components for storage, networking, identity management, and imaging were all allowed to come to fruition and help set OpenStack on it’s way to becoming a capable and robust solution for even Enterprise level development.
By bringing open source software to a community it allows wider support besides software development. Open source had brought a form of open source marketing to them. With Bitcoin, it was during development at sometime during the summer of 2010 that developers had wanted to make the offer of 10000 Bitcoins for some pizza. Two pizzas were delivered to the team and the pizza maker now holds onto currency that is potentially worth millions of dollars; all for delivering two pizzas. This allowed Bitcoin the chance to be recognized as actual currency. This kind of notoriety gains notice among the community, potentially reaching through the vines of social media and allowing for potential further investment. With OpenStack, it was seeing the need for tailored virtualization that allowed the product to reach the eyes and ears of companies like AT&T, Intel, HP, NASA and CERN.
These presentations have really shown me the benefits that the open source community can really bring to a project. Open source just seemed to me as a means to allow for rapid development, but it seems that development is just one of the many benefits of open source projects. The success of Bitcoin had a lot more to it than just open source development. It introduced the idea to me of open source marketing. This is a useful aspect of product development. As products gain more notice, there is a potential for more investment, and more investment allows for further development and support. With OpenStack, it was amazing to see that by bringing a product to the community, that the community can find ways to maximize its use; allowing you to tailor a better product; which was shown as the product gained more components necessary to its success. FSOSS was a great experience where I could see how open source, open standards, and open content are changing technology, the web, the media and arts, and business for the better.