Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hudson Open Source Community

Several of my old friends have asked me about the CloudBees strategy with bringing KK, the creator and primary contributor to the Hudson open source community, on board. I figured I would write it down, since this is important stuff…
It will be a similar strategy to what we did at JBoss. There are two key parts:
  1. Respect for the community, respect for the project leader. We want the community to thrive and grow. We actually coined the term “Professional Open Source” in recognition of the significance of the people who had the foresight to create a successful open source project and build it from nothing.
  2. Provide a business strategy that would drive the economics to keep investing in the project. We wanted to find a way to invest more in the project. We look for virtuous cycles.

While at JBoss, Sacha, Marc and I worked closely to bring the leaders of a number of open source projects on board. The list includes Bela Ban of JGroups, Gavin King of Hibernate, Mark Little of Arjuna (whose technology we moved to open source), Bob McWhirter and Mark Proctor of Drools, Tom Baeyens of JBPM, and several others. In each case, the person stayed with us (and now Red Hat) for at least 5 years (all except Tom are still at Red Hat in fact). In each case, we allowed the project creator more time to work on their project because they no longer had to worry about generating revenue from their project or consulting. In each case, we added people to the project. In each case, we left the project very open and recruited more companies to join in the project. In each case, the communities grew and included competitors (for example it could be argued that Hibernate was a key reason for Spring’s early growth and success).

We were also able to grow an entire middleware stack that was much more valuable and important to customers. And more people were interested in the individual projects because we were the “right size”. No longer just a single person behind a project, but not such a big company that you never know where the project will wind up in the corporate political priorities.

So with that history as context, we are obviously on a similar path with KK’s leadership of the Hudson open source project. KK will no longer need to spend cycles on the business end of running InfraDNA. CloudBees already had people working on Hudson, and we will be adding more. Much of this time and work will be for the open source community. And there is a virtuous cycle on the business side where the company can earn money with the Nectar subscription (which also includes support for the pure Hudson open source project) as well as the Cloud Services we offer which provide Hudson/Nectar features running in the Cloud. And certainly Hudson provides a natural "on-ramp" to the PaaS we will be introducing in 2011.

Every person at CloudBees is an “open source” person. We welcome KK and will continue to enable him to lead this important project. With the project having tens of thousands of sites using Hudson, over 350 third party integrations provided by the community and nearly 300 individual contributors, KK has obviously done a few things right. And we’d be pretty dumb to not let him keep being successful…

As Sacha would say – Onward!

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