The right direction?

OpenNebula introduce “Fund a Feature” program

Chris Mayer

The company behind open source cloud IaaS manager project will let backers set the speed at which features arrive. Is it the right decision?

Standing out in the cloud infrastructure race isn’t easy.
OpenStack and CloudStack seem to be  at the forefront of the
enterprise mind,
when there are other
viable alternatives lurking on the sidelines, such as Eucalyptus,
that deserve equal attention.

One infrastructure toolkit that’s comparatively a veteran to
the rest is OpenNebula, having released its first version in March
2008. The open source orchestrator that initially began life as a
research project before expanding with C12G Labs for an enterprise
assault in 2010. The Spanish company has attained modest success in
Europe but is in danger of being lost in the noise because of the
multi-vendor projects.

To retain community interest, those behind the project have
announced the “Fund a Feature” program, letting corporate users
with the available cash help speed up the development of certain
aspects of OpenNebula. Enterprises using the project can
effectively now request to  ‘fast-track’ code or driver
enhancements if they can stump up the cash for it.

OpenNebula blogpost
explains how it all will

The development of new features occur in the public
repository of OpenNebula
, and the new code undergoes the
continuous integration, and QA processes of OpenNebula
its incorporation into the main OpenNebula distribution. The new
code and documentation will publicly acknowledge your funding
support, and the OpenNebula web site will include your name on the
list of featured

It’s a bold move by the Spanish firm to let enterprises so
openly dictate the roadmap of their project. Theoretically, this
option will allow the larger vendors to get greater value out of
the project which they’ve backed already. However prioritising
their needs above those without deep pockets is dangerous, as the
community as a whole won’t be as equally represented. Those with
less money might not get their voice heard as strongly when it
comes to the roadmap.

Speaking to GigaOM,
OpenNebula director
Ignacio Llorente however believes that the program doesn’t conflict
with the open values of the project and that the community at large
would “completely benefit”.

“I think it is in the spirit of open source. We are not
changing our way to prioritize the roadmap. We have resources that
we use to enhance OpenNebula according to the needs of our users,
this will not change either,” he explains.

Vendor roadmap control isn’t a new concept really – the
direction of rival OpenStack is driven by the companies in the
OpenStack Foundation. Should they wish, they can choose to hold
back components for their own proprietary OpenStack

OpenNebula’s choice to let funding dictate the speed at which
future features arrive makes sense, but they need to make sure that
the cheques of one company don’t throw the project off its true

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