While open standards give customers options, execs from Dell, VMware and Facebook at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco Wednesday said that open source wouldn’t be the death of innovation or revenues in cloud software and hardware development. However, businesses that wish to survive will need to provide value over and above the commoditized aspects of open computing platforms.
According to Frank Frankovsky, director of Hardware Design and Supply Chain at Facebook, one important aspect of open source is in allowing companies to evaluate products and services and determining what value they find in those offerings. “The open computing community wants to be able to evaluate what is the unique value of product, of service or package,” he said.
Unlike proprietary solutions, open source offerings let developers use computing platforms without the fear of being locked in. For them, the advantage isn’t about being free so much as being flexible. “Everyone wants to be in the public cloud, but there are few that want to walk into the deep end and just jump in,” said Derek Collison, CTO and Chief Archictect of VMware’s Cloud Division.
At the same time, companies that wish to thrive in an environment where they’re competing with free and open — like VMware or Dell — need to provide value over and above the standards that are available to everyone. Forrest Norrod, VP and GM of Dell’s Server Platforms business, said customers will pay for is unique value in technologies or products, in services, or in customer support. “If we don’t offer value above and beyond what’s commoditized in the standard, we’re in trouble, he said.”