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OpenStack Summit Board. Please Stay Open Source (avoid Open Core!)

openstackNext week is the OpenStack Summit and I couldn't be more excited. This isn't just a typical IT conference where vendors pitch their wares (though that will be there too). This is a working conference where the future of OpenStack will be mapped out.

This is also the first big board meeting since the official formation of the OpenStack Foundation last month. So yeah, lots on the table.

OpenStack in its short life has gone from being an interesting idea led by Rackspace and NASA to being a massive organization with nearly every big IT vendor name that I write about including Cisco, IBM, Dell, HP, Red Hat and many, many more all having a seat at the table.

The reason why OpenStack has become a fantastic success story in progress is due to a dozen or more reasons. For me, the most important reason is open source.

Open Source isn't just a buzz word (though plenty of marketing folks do toss it around as such). Open Source is the foundation for true innovation and customer choice. With true open source there is interoperability and there is compatibility. With true open source, there is almost no lock-in either.

One of the reasons why OpenStack is now racing forward is because the model feels very much like Linux, with a core upstream base and then distributions built around it.

As the OpenStack Board gets together on Monday – I have just one request – Don't abandon Open Source in favor of Open Core.

In the true Linux model, (hurray GPL!) everything should flow from the upstream. It's not just a question of API openness, it's about code openness. OpenStack Nova, Swift, Horizon and Quantum need to remain entirely Open Source.

In the Open Core model, vendors bake in proprietary tech, leaving the core base as essentially cripple-ware that won't work unless you pay. Open Core also leads to interop challenges (yeaah I know API compatibility is nice but it's not enough).

Personally I would want to see the whole project be GPL to enforce that openness, but I know that's not likely a reality.

I understand that vendors want and need to have competitive differentiation. That makes sense and the cloud is not a charity. The competitive differentiation should not come from the core OpenStack bits though. It should come from management overlays, improved reporting, interface (GUI) work as well as integration with proprietary enterprise and data center technologies. Differentiation should come through execution, service and support.

So to you the Board of the OpenStack Foundation I make this request: please ensure that upstream remains the primary target for innovation. Please ensure that members don't just build proprietary, but also contribute back upstream. Please ensure that instead of a large community of consumption that a large community of contribution and open source innovation remains the way forward.

Thank you and looking forward to seeing you next week at the OpenStack Summit.

Shameless plug: I'm on a panel session Tues at 11:50 AM, drop by and say Hi!

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.