#OpenSource: Trust vs. Usage

When I published my article about open-source and the way I see it as an ecosystem, I received some – very welcome and critical – feedback from a very valued Microsoft employee and architect, who rightfully pointed out, that Microsoft is among the biggest contributors to open-source frameworks and -foundations – and still I don’t trusted them.

He is absolutely right in his analysis: I don’t trust the company and most of its products.

Let me explain that.

First, I have some history with Microsoft. I have been Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for ASP and ASP.NET for several years in a row a decade ago. And I am very, very thankful for this – I got to know many very talented and experienced people, great products, loved the atmosphere and the cultural diversity at Microsoft. I still do, at least in regard to most of the aspects I just pointed out (subtract the products, which is what I am going to explain here). Later, I was working with a small group of awesome, smart and talented people in regard to Windows Phone and Windows Mobile – I was teaching on behalf of Microsoft, wrote several very successful applications for the platform and truly loved all of this. And I still do. I even considered several times joining them as Evangelist and Architect.

I lay that out to make clear that I am by no means a hater or a disappointed fan boy or something similar. I truly love many aspects of Microsoft, I have the fullest and most honest respect for many of its employees and from a technical perspective I can understand a lot of excellence within their products (and some of the excellence is way beyond my level, to be honest).

But: I don’t trust Microsoft.

And the reason for this is: They are not an open-source company. Their products are mostly closed source. Their platforms are closed source. Azure is closed source. And their business practices are embracing closed- and proprietary source ecosystems over open-source ecosystems.

It is absolutely true and needs to be acknowledged that Microsoft is amongst the biggest contributors to open-source ecosystems. And they even open-sourced many of their own products. Thank your for this, Microsoft!

But: I don’t trust Microsoft.

My point is this: Regardless of how much valuable and excellent work you put into open-source technologies – it does not increase the trustworthiness of a proprietary environment or a proprietary ecosystem. Because it is not completely transparent. It is not completely open. There are substantial blind spots in the software and the ecosystem.

Take a picture: If you add layers of glass (open-source glass for the matter :-)) to each other, it stays transparent. But just one layer of – say – concrete or wood in between makes the whole transparent stack in-transparent. You won’t be able to see through all the layers. And that is enough, because you don’t see what is going on with that stack of glass.

Transfer this picture onto a cloud-environment, and it immediately becomes apparent: How are you supposed to trust this environment, if it is not transparently laid out? What do you trust more: The words of the people who built it, revisors and auditors? Or a community of experts, who constantly review and audit?

To me, the answer would be obvious: I would trust the community of experts (plus additional auditors and reviewers). And that is regardless of the awesome quality, the overwhelming quantity and the sum of funding that is put into open-source projects, because – again – it is a matter of trust.

What does that imply for Cloudical’s offerings?

Good question! Thanks for asking!

The same measurements need to be applied here! If we ever create a software stack (and you could bet it would be a Vanilla software stack), we would need to open-source it. Without discussion and dispute. It would be a matter of trust!

Actually, the foundation behind our Managed PaaS– and Managed SaaS-service-offerings is an open-source software-stack. It consists of SUSE-products, such as CaaSP (Kubernetes) and CAP (Cloud Foundry), plus additional scripts and tools required to roll it out and to operate it.

Although we are speaking of a service on a platform stack everyone can easily roll out on its own (well, actually, no, there is a LOT of effort and a TON of knowledge in it), we will open-source it, within the next two to three months. Because we are committed to this kind of thinking, to transparency, trustworthiness and open-source.

Thanks again for asking. And thanks for commenting – and being critical on this and with me.

And yes, I still love Microsoft. 😉

#OpenSource is the way to go!

There are several reasons for this, but seeing my LinkedIn-timeline flowing over with proprietary software- and infrastructure-stack-related news, I feel I should point out some crucial points for open-source:

Open. Source.

The source is open – you can actually see, what is happening! This gives you something which you won’t get with proprietary software and ecosystems: Trust!

Trust

Trust is not only what you need in times where more and more workloads are sourced out into public cloud- and hyperscaler-environments, it is a strategic asset! Trust needs to be at the center of your actions, but there is another aspect being strongly related to that: Security!

Security

With open-source software, literally everyone can check the source code and find security issues. Yes, it might be painful and it feels better with proprietary software, since their security issues are handled way more silent – but this is security-by-obscurity! Just because security issues are not that well-known, it does not mean they don’t exist. Instead, there is a higher chance for them to be exploited, since there is no sense of danger. Open-source-projects fix their security issues regularly and often – proprietary software vendors might not do this. This leads to another important aspect of open-source: Support.

Support

With open-source projects and solutions, you get an awesome level of support if you dare to ask. Yes, the tone might be sometimes a bit … nerdy, and yes, there are no SLAs, but this then again is where you can rely on professional vendors such as Cloudical, providing you with SLAs, professional support and managed services. The advantage of those vendors give you over proprietary software vendors is quite important: They are independent of a specific (proprietary) software stack! So they give you support and consultancy, but in an unbiased and open way.

If you compare this to vendors of proprietary software, they usually want to sell you their products – which might not be what you want. The open-source ecosystem provides you with many vendor-neutral frameworks and solutions – and you find a lot of skilled experts for your operational needs. And even if not (or if it would not be enough to hire those experts) – there are several very affordable and well-executed managed service offerings in place!

Managed Services

Since experts, specifically cloud infrastructure- and software-experts, are a rare things nowadays, there is a huge struggle for finding and hiring the brightest minds. Nonetheless, you need the know-how and knowledge to run your infrastructures and workloads – regardless of the cloud environment and regardless of the workloads you are throwing at them. Managed Services for open-source ecosystems are platform- and vendor-agnostic, so they can work on every cloud and on every platform.

Since the required knowledge is reusable and (mostly) independent of the platform, it will give you peace of mind and sustainability in regard to operations. This would be more complicated with vendor-specific software and infrastructure-stacks, since they are way more limited in regard to their usage and usability scenarios. Another aspect of open-source projects is that they are usually widely adopted and utilized – in their original, vanilla form.

Vanilla

The foundation of products such as Red Hat OpenShift, SUSE CaaSP or Rancher K3S is Vanilla Kubernetes. The foundation of Red Hat Open Stack or Mirantis Open Stack is Vanilla Open Stack. The foundation of Pivotal Cloud Foundry or SUSE Cloud Application Platform is Vanilla Cloud Foundry.

And the good thing is: All the things you or your partners know from vanilla projects apply to the commercial distributions. With open-source projects, knowledge is transferrable between distributions, knowledge is shareable – and knowledge can be achieved without expensive certification trails (although some very useful certificate trails exist). And: Knowledge is shared within a community. It is understood as an asset, not something someone owns (because it was so expensive to gain). Community stands at the center of open-source.

Community

With community, open-source starts and with it, the circle closes: Without a community of enthusiasts, interested industry partners and supporting foundations, open-source would be not even half as appealing, as it is. Open-source is for a very long time matured, processes and governance exist for dozens of years, and even companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, SAP or Amazon contribute to open-source. They form a community, big foundations support and steer the process and create the sustainability in the projects they chose to sponsor.

Open-source is all about openness, trust, security, support, managed services, vanilla and community. And this combination of factors make open-source a strategic aspect and a strategic factor in organization’s sustainability. With open-source, you decide against vendor-locks and golden cages, surpressed issues and horrendous prices. Open-source is trustworthy, cost-effective and driven by intelligence, not by greed.

What does this imply for Cloudical?

Well, with Cloudical we already decided to set more on open-source toolstacks. We decided to move away from Microsoft 365 and Google-GSuite-based approaches. We decided for an open-source CRM-system. We integrate them, we operate them, we trust them.

We are currently setting up, integrating, automating and starting to operate our own open-source ecosystem – and we will make this stack (i.e. Rocket Chat, Keycloak, Harbour, etc.) available to our customers as managed solution and service.

We already offer awesome consultancy and managed services, and we will step up the game later this year. There will be way more offerings from Cloudical, and we will broaden our support for the open-source ecosystem – so stay tuned on that!

What does this imply for me?

For me, personally, this implies way more usage of these technologies. I need to learn and adjust, even if it implies leaving well-known and comfortable ecosystems. But I feel it is worth it, because to me, trustworthiness, privacy and security are more worth than “just” comfort.

To me, it is worth every effort. I personally don’t trust Microsoft, Google or Amazon. I don’t want to be spied upon, don’t want to be bombarded with advertising and don’t want my profile to be sold to some random company. I don’t want my data and my workloads to run within environments we don’t trust (and we can not trust them, because it is their proprietary ecosystem!). I want to support alternatives, I don’t want this world to end with some dominating companies – I want freedom of choice, trust and security.

So to me personally, there is no alternative to this positioning and to this approach.

My new (old) travel policy

In the past years, I adjusted my personal travel habits to be more ecological and sustainable. Now I decided to step up the game.

Abandoned Airplane (Pexels)

I already decided for some fundamental rules to my personal, 90,000+km / year, travel- and commuting habits:

  • I don’t use any plane for distances short of 1,500km
  • I travel mainly by car and by train
  • When travelling by train, I use the 1st class and keep distance by booking single-seated options

My car has – for the past 12 years – always been a Diesel, with all modern cleaning technologies. I have used a BahnCard 50, which grants me 50% rebate of all inner-German travels via train, at least for what Deutsche Bahn covers. Since there is no such concept as peak- or offpeak-fares, this was very viable and it worked out once you had reached a spending of 500,– EUR per year.

After doing some research into feasibility and after wanting to improve upon my ecological footprint, I decided this as my plans for the next two years to be incorporated:

  • I don’t fly within Europe at all
  • My next car will be 100% electric
  • Commuting to the office will be done with zero carbon local footprint only
  • I will upgrade to a BahnCard 100 1st class
  • I will use my bike for short distance commuting (up to ~25km each direction)
  • I will just use a none-electrical car if it can not be circumvented
  • I will add solar panels to my roof to produce energy locally

The goal is to reduce my car-bound travels from roughly 70,000km in 2019 to appr. 35,000km in 2021. I shall use a car only for travelling, when there is no appropriate train connection available, or when I have to carry heavy or bulky luggage. All other trips can be done by train, given the health situation allows for it.

The most challenging aspect will be the switch to a fully electrical car, since I expect a minimum of 500km of range – not on paper, but in real-life situations, such as when driving on an Autobahn with 130km/h.

Tesla Model S (Source)

I understand currently only some Tesla Models matching these requirements – all of the German engineered cars may have such a range on paper, but not in real life. On the other hand, it will be very rewarding – I anyhow used 100% renewable energy for the past 10 years, I am planning to add some solar panels to my house’s roof, ideally resulting in being able to sustain my local travels from my own energy sources and circumventing charging points for most of the time.

So, my new travel habits will be more:

  • More sustainable
  • More ecological
  • More healthy

To me, this is the right way to go, even if it is more expensive then continuing with the traditional approaches.

What do you think?

Life at Cloudibility (XIV):What makes us unique and why is worth fighting for it

logo_cloudibility_rgb_transparent_square_smallTL’DR:

Cloudibility is about mindset and culture, about respect and values. We will ensure it stays that way, we will focus on these aspects and will emphasize them even more, even if it might imply some pains. Because, it is worth it. We are worth it.

The long text:

At Cloudibility, we strive to be special. We try to live a different kind of mentality compared to more traditional corporations. We try to work in cross-functional, self-organized teams and with an “If it’s not there, then let’s build it”-attitude. Approaches like “we always did it that way” or “I am the boss and tell you what to do” are not part of our mindset.

But, what is our mindset instead?

Well, our mindset is the mindset of a Startup. We’re active minds. We want to create, shape and solve, instead of griping and moaning. We understand not everything might be in place or working out to our satisfaction – but we don’t see this as an issue, instead we try to set up and create the missing parts on our own, we try to iterate and deliver.

We value the freedom of every individual to learn, to understand and to improve – but we understand this freedom not as something which ends in itself, but something which can only be lived when we also work hard to ensure our stability as a company.

We love our customers, since they allow us to earn our well-deserved money – but we don’t fear them or simply do what they want us to do, instead we’re striving to support them the best we can and with the best outcome possible for them. Supporting our customers is way more than simply accepting tasks – it is about understanding our customer’s needs, seeing issues and solving them, even proactively and perhaps even without ever getting honored for doing so. It is not about sitting in meetings and simply being present, it is about ownership, acting and delivering results.

We love our colleagues and we love working with them, not against them. We’re not trying to “lead” them by expressing negative narratives or by imposing any kind of male dominance, instead we try find solutions and try to convince our fellow team members with arguments. Collaboration, not dominance, is the key for us – even if the better argument might not be our own argument.

It is also about the way we express ourselves – not aggressively or loud, instead being open and respectful to and with each other.

There are many more things that make up for the Cloudibility mentality, have a look at our Leadership Principles and understand them the way they are meant: As principles, to be weighted and prioritized against each other ever and ever again, in each and every situation we are confronted with – not every principle will be applicable to every situation, but it should give you something to think about and to act upon. And try to understand their implications when being lived.

And realize: We insist of living them.

What does this imply?

Cloudibility is very much about mindset, reflection and culture. It is about the way we want to interact, about the way we want to execute our daily business and about the way we want to see ourselves. Since we are growing, it becomes very important to stick to our convictions, to act instead of trying to react, to save ourselves from becoming a more traditional, hierarchically organized and executing company. Because, that’s not what we are and that’s not what we want to be in the future.

We believe in a more modern, agile and active approach to things. We believe in the power of teams instead of embracing those egoistic problem-solvers to be found quite often. We believe in a more substantial, more social, more ecological and more human approach of work and interacting, without being weak or exploitable or allowing others to weaken or exploit us.

And we will grow even more in the next months to come.

And that’s why we emphasize on culture and mindset. That’s why we feel like living and understanding our Leadership Priniciples is that substantial. And that’s why we favour mindset and culture over technical skills and existing expertise.

We are Cloudibility, and we will continue to be it!

Promised.

Kauflust (V): iPhone Xs Max

I regularly change my telephones, usually around September, latest in October, I switch to an iPhone, since the new models for the upcoming season are presented in that time frame. But this time, things are a little different. And this has little to do with size and features and much with one other aspect many people tend to ignore.

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DevOps: Warum DevOps nicht funktionieren wird

DevOps ist als Buzzword gerade in aller Munde – jede IT-Abteilung, die etwas von sich hält, und jeder Manager oder Engineer, der “Project Phoenix” gelesen hat, will es umsetzen, denn die Probleme sind allbekannt und die Lösungen doch offensichtlich einfach.

Nur: Es wird so nicht funktionieren.

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Life at Cloudibility (XII): Es begann vor einem Jahr – und Sie sollten unser Geburtstagsevent keinesfalls verpassen!

Cloudibility-Logo-Square

Unser erstes Logo

Vor einem Jahr gründeten Michael Dombek und ich, Karsten Samaschke, die Cloudibility. Wir hatten einige Ideen und Erwartungen in Bezug darauf, wie sich unsere Firma entwickeln soll und was wir unseren Kunden anbieten wollten.

Die schlichte Wahrheit jedoch ist: Wir lagen sowas von falsch damit!

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Kauflust (IV): Surface Go (English edition)

A smaller Surface Pro? Powerful enough to master all everyday office- and business-applications? Starting around 449,– EUR? Give me that Surface Go!

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Surface Go with Type Cover, Surface Pen and mug of coffee

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Kauflust (IV): Surface Go (Deutsche Version)

Ein Surface Pro in kleiner? Leistungsfähig genug für alltägliche Office- und Business-Anwendungen? Ab 449,– EUR? Her mit dem Surface Go!

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Surface Go mit Type Cover, Surface Pen und Kaffeetasse

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