The Rise of Open Infrastructure

Jon Udell just wrote a thought-provoking editorial on Infoworld that takes off from my conversation with Debra Chrapaty, which I blogged earlier this month. I had called out Debra’s comment that “In the future, being a developer on someone’s platform will mean being hosted on their infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, I was citing Jon myself just this morning, pointing out in my keynote at OScon that Jon’s blog entry Hosting AJAX Applications on [Amazon’s] S3 with Openfount seemed to me to be an early confirmation of Debra’s provocative assertion.

Jon’s latest editorial, The Rise of Open Infrastructure, suggests a challenge for future open source developers: create open source, perhaps P2P, infrastructure so that developers don’t become hostage to a future in which the big web platform players (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Amazon) use their economies of scale to limit what independent developers can do. Jon writes:

We’ve already seen how open source software projects harness collective effort to produce quality results. We’re now seeing how open content projects such as Wikipedia do the same. Can open infrastructure be far behind?


Arguably it’s already here. Yochai Benkler, author of The Wealth of Networks, notes that if we regard the P2P file-sharing networks from a technical rather than a political/legal perspective, we observe the evolution of robust decentralized storage systems…. Operating on a smaller scale but at a higher level in the stack, open content delivery networks such as CoralCDN, which I mentioned a year ago, will challenge proprietary CDNs (content delivery networks) such as Akamai… Beyond CDNs lie service delivery networks… If I were the next Linus Torvalds, itching to create the Linux of open infrastructure, this is where I’d scratch. Innovation in open source was about process more than technology. Innovation in open infrastructure will require both.

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