Open Source Cloud: Usharesoft

Open source cloud is getting hype, and looking at the different slices of the “burger cloud” among SaaS cloud providers I happened to step into UShareSoft, a French company based in Grenoble providing an appliance factory to design, build and deploy software appliances in virtual and cloud environments.

James Weir, UShareSoft CTO, answered few questions about their offer and open source strategy.

James, can you tell how your offer is different from SUSE Studio?

That’s a great question. What we’re doing is similar. Our UForge product is also designed to help users easily assemble software appliances. However, SuseStudio is restricted to appliances built on SuSE’s operating system. UForge, on the other hand, is OS-agnostic which means that users can build their appliance on any major open-source OS whether that’s CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu etc. There aren’t many tools available that enable you to do that. Because UForge is neutral, it offers users more flexibility with no lock-in. They can also output to any format for physical, virtual or cloud environments.

UShareSoft offer is strongly based on open source projects, how do you give back?

We provide an online service – a SaaS platform that enables users, whether they are a member of an open source community or not, to easily build a software appliance. We don’t provide an open source project ourselves. However, we’re keen to help open source projects out and we do that in two ways.

Firstly, we provide free community accounts to leading open source projects, to enable them to build business-ready appliances. One of the big barriers with open source software is enabling people to easily configure and install it for both test and deployment purposes. With free accounts, we enable open source projects to do this easily and cost-effectively. Our business model is subscription based with three levels of subscriptions. For open source communities, such as our partnership with OW2, a major open source community – we offer our Professional account for free.

Secondly, we’re building up a catalog of open source projects that enable our users to choose <<a la carte>>, which projects they want to integrate into their appliance. This offers visibility for open source projects that we include and also means that somebody outside an open source community can easily build their appliance using open source software. We currently have about 60 projects in the catalog.

How is important open source in the cloud from your perspective?

Open source is extremely relevant for cloud computing because today’s licensing models aren’t designed to support the creation of many instances of an application that the cloud requires. This puts existing business models in question and means that open source will become increasingly important in cloud environments with licenses that allow for redistribution and modifications. In fact, IDC estimates that 65% of the software appliance market is based on open source operating systems. UShareSoft supports the Open Cloud Manifesto initiative dedicated to the belief that the cloud should be open.

About UShareSoft.

UShareSoft’s mission is to simplify software delivery. We offer a software appliance factory, UForge, and a set of enterprise-class
tools allowing users to create high quality business-ready software images for physical, virtual or cloud environments in a just a few clicks. We enable users to visually create,  assemble, and customize high-quality, pre-configured software stacks and deploy them in a simple, consistent and predictable manner. This helps customers reduce costs and accelerate software time to market.

UShareSoft was created by 3 former Sun Microsystems employees. After a one-year incubation period in the GRAIN organization in France, UShareSoft was officially created in August 2008. In the same year, the technology developed in house received an award from the 10th national contest for the support of innovative start-ups organized by the French ministry of research and universities (OSEO).

UShareSoft is currently expanding our base of partners and aiming to develop a large community of users. We currently partner with open source communities such as OW2, cloud providers such as The Planet, and technology partners such as IBM, VMWare and France Telecom. Our headquarters are located in France, with an R&D Center in Argentina (Buenos Aires) and offices in the USA (San Francisco).