Q&A: Sparking innovation with open source advocate Arturo Suarez
Open source software has played an increasingly important role in the IT world, impacting everything from operating systems to programming languages to infrastructure and architectural designs. As we enter the home stretch leading up to Think 2019, who better to ask for the latest buzz than open source advocate Arturo Suarez, who built the first commercial distribution of OpenStack?
Why do you consider yourself an open source advocate?
Using open source sparks innovation and freedom of choice, and it values collaboration in solving common problems — all at a much faster speed than commercial, proprietary software. I think advances in research fields, communications, enterprise competitiveness, artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictability tools all benefit from rapid innovation. I like to see software enabling innovation rather than restricting it.
How would you describe your experiences with OpenStack and with Kubernetes?
I was there for the beginning of OpenStack, through the whole hype cycle. OpenStack has gone from a very niche project to the de facto open cloud infrastructure for many different industries. At scale, OpenStack just makes better economic sense for virtualized workloads.
Kubernetes, on the other hand, is winning the de facto container orchestration race. Like OpenStack, I got involved in Kubernetes from the very beginning. Kubernetes evolves even faster than OpenStack, with releases every three months, and has (in my opinion) a better governance model, simplicity and adoption curve. But Kubernetes is not a great fit for everything, nor does everything fit in Kubernetes. That’s where open infrastructure comes into play.
Can you talk a little more about open infrastructure?
Open infrastructure redefines the traditional hybrid cloud, where you would combine private and public infrastructure for your workloads. Open infrastructure integrates different substrates (containers, serverless, virtualization, bare metal) defined by software that enables companies to find the best fit in terms of networking, compute and storage capabilities for each of their applications. As with software paving the way for (rather than restricting) innovation, open infrastructure does the same thing for the application layer.
In your current role at Rogue Wave Software, you work with a lot of clients to develop complex solutions. What are some of the biggest challenges you see clients facing with open technologies? Has that changed significantly over the past five years?
Even in the most traditional industries, companies are moving away from monolithic products (black boxes) to gain better insight, competitiveness, flexibility and cost efficiencies. Open source software provides these companies with a range of options to choose from, but that comes with the continuous effort of navigating all the options and changing the internal mindset to get granular.
Companies now seem to have a better understanding of open source software as a toolkit to build products, rather than a product itself. We’re seeing companies pioneer their own projects and create open source practices within their development teams.
And, of course, there’s the challenge of day two. When designing products using open source software, you should always have the goal of maintainability and day-two operations. When you are combining different projects with different release cycles, different security vulnerabilities and different upgrade paths, automation and support are key. That’s what Rogue Wave and IBM open source support is about — consultative support that gives customers peace of mind about the pieces of software they run their businesses on.
Any thoughts on the biggest disruptors in open technology?
We are in the process of adopting containers at scale, moving from early adopters to the early majority at a great speed. That fast adoption is also supported by the implementation of DevOps, which allows applications to be changed faster and more often. Over the next few years, I think the biggest disruption technologies will be artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain — again, built mainly on open source technology.
Arturo Suarez is the Director of Product Management for open source business at Rogue Wave Software. He previously founded the company that built the first commercial distribution of OpenStack the very same year OpenStack was born. After that, he spent four years at Canonical (the makers of Ubuntu Linux) where he launched their managed services offering around OpenStack and Kubernetes, and pioneered a model of “build, operate and transfer” that helps companies worldwide consume open infrastructure.