It was only a couple of months ago that CERN celebrated 20 years of the open web. We pointed to the way that freedom had allowed the web to succeed in a way that the patented Gopher couldn’t compete with. Today brings the announcement of another big success for open software, as CERN move into a year long collaboration with Rackspace to create an a new cloud computing facility (in conjunction with their existing OpenStack clouds) to handle the massive quantity of data created by CERN’s experiments.
The move highlights one of the ways in which open source software can be of value to the scientific community. Speaking on that topic, CERN’s IT infrastructure manager Tim Bell said that open source technologies, “foster continuous technological improvements through community contributions, while also giving us the ability to quickly address challenges, such as massive scaling, by leveraging the work of others.”
What he’s highlighting here is the flexibility of the open source approach. Flexibility is the core value of open source software; allowing you to be free to innovate and problem-solve rather than becoming a vassal to your suppliers’ business models. CERN unleashed this change when they set the Web free; it’s good to see them still using the same approach to create new revolutions today.