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Re: Please let's not talk about "clouds"

On Mon, Apr 22, 2013 at 3:47 AM, Thomas Goirand <zigo@debian.org> wrote:
> On 04/22/2013 10:33 AM, Richard Stallman wrote:
>> If you host the platform and use it, that isn't SaaS.
>> That is using your own computer.
> So, for you, the line is who is providing the hosting?
> I respectfully don't agree. A commercial hosting service
> could provide a 100% free software hosted platforms,
> which would be reproducible at home. I have no problem
> with that.
> For me, the problem is more when the underlying IaaS
> isn't free, when the SaaS uses a PaaS which isn't free,
> or if the software on the SaaS platform isn't free. This
> is where I draw the line, and this has absolutely nothing
> to do with what kind of contract I have with my provider
> (shared hosting, dedicated servers, collocation, or even
> a public or private IaaS cloud).
> Thoughts?


I tend to agree with Richard here, but would love to discuss this further.

As I don't believe your definition of SaaS fits either the definition
that Richard has an issue with, or the general definition used by the
industry as a whole. It is my understanding that a SaaS service
completely abstracts away the underlying software, such to the point,
that the users of such a service have no control or real influence
over the underlying software (whether built on Free Software or not.)
In the case of Debian's infrastructure, even if an individual does not
have administrative access to one of these services, they can talk to
the admins, influencing the service, and even may, if they have the
project's trust, combined with the ability and interest, gain
administrative rights. (Depending on the service, this bar may be
higher or lower than others.)

In my mind (and presumably Richard's) SaaS is really about a lack of
*control* over the application, and your own data, in exchange for
divesting oneself of the responsibility of managing and developing
said application and data.

Perhaps, following your line of logic, the one exception to this might
be a SaaS provider that does not own the copyright to the software
they are providing as a service and that software has been released
under the aGPL. I would consider this a SaaS offering, but perhaps one
that I don't feel challenges Debian's values. (It's tricky as one
still potentially loses control of one's data, and one still has to
trust that the organization will follow the terms of the aGPL, so the
question of trust really comes into play.)


While I agree with much of what you have to say here, and respect and
understand the FSF's guidance on avoiding the use of these terms, I
will personally be advocating within the project, that rather than
stop using the term "Cloud" or "Cloud Computing" that we clarify the
definitions very explicitly, inline with the NIST definitions [1], and
clarifying the project's positions on these types of services, rather
than completely not using these terms.


P.S. - If anyone hasn't read the NIST doc, please consider doing so.

[1] - http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-145/SP800-145.pdf

> Cheers,
> Thomas
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