“Your technology should be woven in…if it’s woven in, you remove all the friction traditionally associated with selling to the enterprise.”


—SAN FRANCISCO When Mark Shuttleworth founded Ubuntu, he says that being open source felt like the right thing at the time, if “a little bit rebellious.”  Now, he says, it’s the way we expect things to be done.

Shuttleworth shared his thoughts at a recent event about the “explosive growth” of open source startups organized by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).  With some 15-years hindsight, he has a couple of observations for how startups can harness open source and hit the bottom line.

“What surprises me to a certain extent is the gap between open source and what I think of as entrepreneurship and innovation,” he told a group of VCs, developers and community members. “Open source has become a canonical weapon for commoditization — you can commoditize the other guy’s stuff and, in a sense, we all benefit from that. It’s amazing how far that’s spread — all the way to Redmond…” But there’s a gap around startups, he notes, adding that recently there have been more negative than positive stories in the news. RethinkDB, for example, was “phenomenal technology” all done as open source and the company didn’t make it.

Shuttleworth launched a live demo – deploying Kubernetes on bare metal even though it threatened to wake his dogs sleeping in the garage where he keeps the machines — to make a point about simplicity.

“Many of you are innovating at this base/root level – and getting your innovation to be consumable by the enterprise is the really hard part,” he says. “That’s one of the points I’d like to drive home with startups in Silicon Valley: Your technology should be woven in. If you’re innovating at that level (storage, network, etc) if it’s woven in, you remove all the friction traditionally associated with selling to the enterprise.”

Across any kind of substrate cloud – VMs or bare metal – startups can simplify operations for complex enterprise operations so that it becomes consumable, he added. “Hopefully that helps get rid of the friction of enterprise startups in the open source space.”



Cover Photo // CC BY NC