Ethical Components Regarding Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus has a lot of vulnerability when it comes to ethical assessment.  Eucalyptus puts the power of a cloud at the keyboard of its users.  It is open-source and the community could potentially use it with malicious intent.  Who can be held accountable if the software is used for destructive purposes?

Eucalyptus has a very broad terms of use policy.  It simply states that contributors and users are responsible for the contributions they make toward the project and the implementation of the software. Users agree that it will only be used for lawful purposes.  Though, in the technology world, there is a lot of grey area. Laws often vary from state-to-state and even more so on the international level.  What if a cloud is hosted in one state, where the laws are loose, and is utilized in another state where they are very tight?  What legislature applies?  This area is still very undefined, and proposes great risk to contributors, users, and Eucalyptus’ responsibility.

On the other hand, the more detailed the terms of use becomes, the less versatility and flexibility you have with the software.  You begin to remove the open-source aspect that the project is based on.  The more you tell users what the software can and can’t be used for, the less likely they are to use it.  It becomes more of a burden to follow all of the terms of use than is worth it.  It’s essentially a catch-22.

I think the most obscene part of the whole project is the business structure.  When I buy something, I prefer to be told up-front how much it’s going to cost.  Eucalyptus gives a trial of there software, then you face a fee for continued use.  If you can’t quite figure out the incredibly dense and technical documentation, you’ll be charged a service fee for any help.  If you want to further specialize the software with add-ons, you’ll probably pay for those too.  Welcome to the Americanized version of marketing, where we nickel-and-dime you to death before you even have a working product.

I still think Eucalyptus has a lot of potential, but it requires a great deal of attention to business structure and project management.  Implement release dates, and stop nickel-and-diming to reach profitability.

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Eucalyptus Fail Meters

Karl asked me to compile all of the FAIL Meters (Tom Calloway) and come up with one final review.  Here are the results with details elaborating each factor they accrued FAIL points for:

Size: +10pts

Eucalyptus received a total of 10 points of fail due to size and compression.  This suggests a great amount of obsolete code.  The first step would be to dedicate an individual to removing this obsolete code and standardizing the software.

Source Control: +5pts

Many people said the documentation for the source control was extensive, hard to follow, and  dependent on a programming background.  It is slightly more acceptable to require a background in programming when it comes to source control, but not to the point where even those with a background struggle to get through it.  Remember, the goal is to make this project as open-source as possible.  We want even those with no background able to contribute.  If the Wiki is so long that a new user is instantly turned away by the sheer size of the source control documentation, it probably needs to be edited.

 

Building From Source: +15pts

A few people said that it could be difficult to understand the documentation if you had little programming background.  So I tagged on 5 more points of fail.  This is probably the easiest part to fix.  Within a short time the documentation could be improved and use language that essentially anyone could understand.  This would also allow new users the ability to utilize Eucalyptus without requiring them to have a background in programming.

 

I also tagged on 10 points for containing hand-written scripts.  This isn’t a world ending add-on.  In fact, we might want to waive this, considering the type of project Eucalyptus is.  It’s a specialized architecture project, so you can expect some custom shell scripts to be included.

 

System Installs: +10pts

Many people tried to get Eucalyptus out of the 10 pts, explaining that it ‘recommends’ installing in ‘/opt’, but you can choose a different directory.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.  It installs into a directory that it doesn’t/shouldn’t have too.

Releases: +5pts

I added a small amount of fail to releases because of the time frame of releases.  There isn’t any established consistent release date for new versions.  Releases come periodically, every 7-9 months or so.  Establishing a deadline and project goals would greatly increase Eucalyptus interest and drive.  People tend to procrastinate without deadlines.  Having a deadline with project goals gives the community something to look forward too, and the engineers something to work on.

History: +5pts

Eucalyptus started as a University project, and wasn’t open-source until some time after.  I gave them a reduced +5pts because they have earned it in regards to how open-sourced they are now.

Final: 50 Points of Fail “Babies cry when your code is downloaded”

I don’t think this is a bad place to be.  You can see a clear direction for Eucalyptus, and there is a lot of potential.  However, there are a lot of areas that can be improved.

The FAIL Meter assessment allowed me to take a look at the entire Eucalyptus project with a completely unbiased opinion.  Interestingly, the fail meter doesn’t dive deep into the source control.  Eucalyptus could use some improvements in the source code, particularly documentation and standardization.

The bigger problem lies within the management of the project.  Eucalyptus doesn’t follow any release deadlines.  Without release dates, software engineers don’t have a vested interest in the project.  They can get around to their assignment when they feel like it.  The community doesn’t have anything to look forward to and be excited about.  If you think about a successful open source project like Ubuntu, not only do they have planned release dates, but their releases are reflected in their version numbers.  There is always a lot of hype when a release is around the corner.