The most successful projects, like Android, are finding new homes in unexpected places, and there seem to be more unexpected places than ever. Throughout the Web and the enterprise, open source is less and less the exception and more and more the rule. It's in the server stacks, it's on the desktop, and it's a big, big part of the mobile ecology.
The server stack is growing increasingly open. Much of the software for maintaining our collection of servers is now largely open source thanks to the proliferation of Linux, but the operating system is just the beginning. Almost everything built on top of -- or below -- the operating system is also available as an open source package.
OpenStack is a collection of open source packages that let you build a cloud that rivals Amazon's. If you want your cloud to work the same way Amazon's does, using the same scripts and commands, open source offers that too: Eucalyptus. The cloud companies are using open source's flexibility as a way to lure people into their infrastructures. If things don't work out and you want to leave, open source presumably provides the exit. As Eucalyptus is to Amazon, an OpenStack cloud in your data center should behave like the OpenStack clouds run by Rackspace and HP by answering to the same commands.
The Bossie Awards also focus on an increasingly important layer, the one that keeps all of these machines in the cloud in line. Orchestration tools such as Puppet, Chef, and Salt serve the needs of the harried sys admins who must organize the various servers by making sure they're running the right combination of software, patches, libraries, and extensions. These tools ensure the code will be the right versions, the services will be initialized, and everything will start and stop as it's supposed to do. They automate the tasks that keep the entire cloud in harmony.
Once the machines are configured, another popular layer for the enterprise gets the servers working together on answers to big questions. The cloud is not just for databases and Web serving because more and more complex analytical work is being done by clusters of machines that get spun up to handle big mathematical jobs. Hadoop is a buzzword that refers to both the core software for running massively parallel jobs and the constellation of fat packages that help Hadoop find the answers. Most of these companions are open source too, and a number of them made the list for our awards.
These tools for big data are often closely aligned with the world of NoSQL data stores that offer lightweight storage for extremely large data sets. This next generation of data storage is dominated by open source offerings, and we've recognized several that grew more sophisticated, more stable, and more essential this year. The information for the increasingly social and networked Internet is stored in open source tools.
By the way, the past roles for open source aren't forgotten -- they've simply begun to morph. Some of the awards go to a core of old-fashioned tools that continue to grow more robust. Python, Ruby, WordPress, and the old standard OpenOffice (in a freshly minted version 4) are better and stronger than ever. Firefox -- both the browser and the operating system -- received Bossies, illustrating the enduring strength of the openness of HTML and the World Wide Web.