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Enterprises are adopting open source software more than ever, according to most estimations, a shift accelerated by factors such as the push toward cloud infrastructure and the global pandemic.
Many of the major technology companies these days not only use open source software, but contribute code and even open-source their own tools where it makes sense. Open source, it seems, has eaten the world.
However, the sheer number and variety of open source software packages can make it difficult for even the largest of businesses to choose the best for their needs, not to mention which ones will work well together as part of a broader open source software stack. And that is a problem that OpenLogic is looking to partly solve with Stack Builder, a free tool designed to help enterprises build a customized open source stack.
OpenLogic, for the uninitiated, delivers open source services, support, design guidance, training, and more. The company was founded initially as EJB Solutions back in 1998, before it was rebranded as OpenLogic in 2004. It was then acquired by Rogue Wave Software in 2013, which in turn was acquired by Perforce six years later. OpenLogic claims a number of notable enterprise clients such as Fannie Mae, which used OpenLogic to migrate off Oracle Java to OpenJDK, and Moody’s, which used OpenLogic to migrate from RHEL to CentOS.
Traditionally, enterprises would be inclined to use commercial off-the-shelf software solutions that are vertically integrated, something that is somewhat “antiethical” to the open source software world, according to OpenLogic chief architect Justin Reock. “So enterprises seek to recreate that experience by curating a full stack of open source packages and treating it as a single solution,” he told VentureBeat. “There is no place to go to get this curated stack, and to understand the best choices for their use cases.”
That, in a nutshell, is what Stack Builder tries to solve. OpenLogic first debuted Stack Builder last year, though it was a much more primitive, static incarnation based on a Q&A format. Version 2.0, which launched this week, takes a more dynamic template-based approach, replete with a drag-and-drop interface.
After submitting your email address, to which OpenLogic will later send a personalized report, the user is faced with a display divided by various categories spanning application delivery; data layer; front end; monitoring; operating system; VM / containers / cloud; and workflow.
The user then selects their package category from the menu, and populates the “stack” by dragging and dropping from the options available.
Alternatively, OpenLogic also provides a bunch of pre-built templates, such as the lightweight Java or PHP stack, which automatically selects what it deems to be the best open source software packages.
At the end of all that, OpenLogic sends the user a report [example here] that outlines the purpose of each of the packages, what they are typically used for, and — as you might expect — how to put it all together by employing OpenLogic’s services.
There are other tools and platforms out there designed to help developers dig through the weeds, such as Openbase which provides data on the millions of open source packages including figures on weekly downloads, monthly commits, and even user reviews. With Stack Builder, OpenLogic is bringing curation to the table — it has narrowed down the options to what it believes are the best open source packages based on its experience.
“We have curated this selection because these are open source technologies proven to work for enterprise requirements, at enterprise scale,” Reock explained. “They have all passed OpenLogic certification – which includes a 72 point checklist that gauges aspects of community behavior, enterprise adoption, responsiveness to security vulnerabilities, and sponsorship by broader industry organizations such as the Linux foundation.”
Moreover, not all open source software play nice together, due perhaps to incompatible protocol layers or standards that have not been implemented correctly. As such, Stack Builder not only serves as a curator, but as a compatibility tester and evaluator.
“Open source projects are developed by completely different communities – which may or may not adhere to the open standards, or may have different interpretations,” Reock said. “Critical elements that determine interoperability include following standards, wide adoption and testing, interaction with other products and packages.”
Stack Builder is designed to give users the best options for their use cases through a “living tool” that is constantly updated with new or better technologies as they evolve. If nothing else, it should save companies at least a little time initially, and help them better understand the open source software landscape from a security, stability, and interoperability perspective.
And what’s the alternative?
“The alternative is to do a lot of research on your own, search community threads and ultimately test and try to really understand if the stack’s components will work together for your use cases at enterprise scale,” Reock said.”[That’s] lots of time and trial and error.”
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