A fascinating conclusion is quietly tucked away in the last slide of a 2011 Netflix cloud talk (Mr. Cockcroft talks a lot):

Cloud Standardization?

  • Cloud features and APIs should be a commodity not a differentiator
  • Differentiate on scale and quality of service
  • Competition also drives cost down

This is a claim that competition and standardization are desirable and beneficial at the individual level—an insight perhaps also employed by Google with its Chrome and Android strategy.

ESR made the case that there is economic motivation for sharing code. This was corroborated years later by OpenNT:

Recognize that none of these contributions back to the community were out of altruism, especially considering the cost in engineering time […]. Despite the initial time to market advantage of using open source, if we had continued to live on our own code fork our team would need to make months of changes when a new version of gcc came out, rather than a few weeks of changes if the OpenNT-related contributions were accepted.

Open source has utility for both parties. If there weren’t utility, then allocation (priorities) would suffer heavily (cf. GNU Hurd).

Also from the Netflix slides:

We would prefer to be an insignificant customer in a giant cloud.

Intriguing because it is counterintuitive, but it may not square with the AWS model: large AWS customers are able to negotiate discounts on the most expensive component of AWS: traffic; smaller customers are paying hidden costs.