When we look back at the early milestones of Linux's success in enterprise, one thing really sticks out to me: the value proposition was clear from the onset. A free operating system equaled tremendous cost saving potential ... that was enough to capture the imagination of enterprise developers, and the "community" snowballed from the very clear economic implications of the technology.
With Grid Computing, and Open Source Grid Computing in particular, it's still unclear to the enterprise development community exactly what the upside is, what exactly the technology is going to displace, and what the upside is to contributing code.
The Globus Toolkit is an excellent example of this. For all of the success that the Globus Toolkit has had in science and academia, (last week, the National Science Foundation announced an additional $13.3 million in funding for the Globus Toolkit), this is an open source effort that has not yet fully captured the enterprise development community from the standpoint of end user commercial deployments -- but I expect the pendulum to start to swing in 2006.
Why? Open source Grid computing and the components of the Globus Toolkit in particular are highly complimentary to other open source efforts that are changing the game with IT systems management. From open source network monitoring player Nagios, to Xen's Linux virtualization breakthroughs, to Levanta's Linux virtual filesystem MapFS code -- there are numerous projects popping up today that provide open source alternatives to proprietary systems management tools.
While the value proposition for these projects is not quite so crystal clear as Linux (displacing a very expensive OS, with a free OS) -- I believe this trickle of open source systems management initiatives underway today will clear the path for a broader enterprise developer community interest in replacing expensive systems management tools with open source. First open source targeted the OS, then the application -- now it's poised to change the game with how we manage our systems.
Grid computing is an ideal catalyst to help write this next chapter in the Open Source story.