Since ideas like cloud computing are taking center stage, are arguments against open source losing ground?

Also is the current move toward the cloud a good thing for software or not?

—Joe Baker

My last job was in a SaaS company, so I’m familiar with some of the advantages.  It’s great for the seller— you get ongoing revenue instead of single sales; you can easily update all your customers— and it has advantages for enterprise customers: easily deployable, centrally manageable, presumably more reliable.

I think it makes the most sense for side apps— things like source control or survey software that you want to be widely available, but aren’t where most people spend most of their working hours.  For main apps, local teams, not the head office, should be able to choose the best tools.  If I’m spending most of my day using a tool, my team will make a better choice than some clueless IT autocrat.

I’m dubious about cloud computing in general, because there’s all this power in the desktop computer— why avoid it?  It mostly seems like an end run around Microsoft.  But if it works, it won’t produce the Open Source Utopia; it’ll produce a software world dominated by Google rather than Microsoft.

Also see Joel Spolsky’s delicious takedown of the architecture astronauts, particularly Microsoft’s version of cloud computing.

You mentioned Steam, which is an interesting model… it has cloud computing elements, in that your game permissions are stored externally (which makes it easy to change computers— a great boon as I’ve done it twice in the last year), yet the apps it manages are local desktop apps (which makes a lot more sense for games).  That’s a good balance, taking the advantages of cloud computing but not forcing it to do what it’s not good at.