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Cloud raining money on Apache developers

Querna said Apache developers are big in the cloud because they're infrastructure and that's what Apache is good at, those pieces that everyone needs.
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Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

The folks at Apache don't like to talk about how much money they're making. It's rude, for one thing.

But innovative software draws VCs the way good quarterbacks with gimpy knees draw blitzing linebackers. Apache is filled with innovative software developers, and some are still too young to gimp.

So it should be no surprise that many Apache leaders are also cloud leaders. This year's chair, Doug Cutting of Hadoop and Cloudera, is just one example.

There are others, like Paul Querna (right), whom I also spoke with last week.

Querna has been chief architect at Cloudkick for over a year now. While there is no single Apache cloud project, Apache has a number of projects that impact the cloud. In addition to Hadoop, these include ActiveMQ, Apache Qpid, and the Deltacloud API.

Querna said Apache developers are big in the cloud because they're infrastructure, and "that's what Apache is good at, those pieces that everyone needs."

Querna is most focused on Libcloud, a collection of drivers written in Python for each cloud. It's part of the Apache incubator.

"We have 15-16 clouds now supported by Libcloud, and we didn't have to write all these drivers or maintain them." Instead, developers were attracted to the open source library and most now support a driver within Libcloud.

Here's how all this turns into money.

"Cloudkick," where Querna works, "is a monitoring and management platform. The core part of it is that server resources are dynamic.

"We do the traditional monitoring and management, but when you boot a new server we automatically monitor it. We use Libcloud to power the dynamic part of Cloudkick.

"We notice a new machine and do everything for you. That's what customers like – they don't have to manually configure things. They boot it and it's in Cloudkick."

Clouds are a higher level of abstraction for computing, but they are not the final word. Apache developers like Querna understand that over time these libraries could evolve into new languages for addressing that higher level of abstraction.

Already gaming companies are getting big value from clouds, because they get more flexible hosting. As are mobile Internet companies, which may have a "rush to the rail" when something new comes out but whose standard needs are more modest.

This pleases Querna, because the Spokane native got his first job as an intern with Cyan Worlds, the folks who write Myst and Riven. "I learned so much there," he said, and decided while at Cyan Worlds to work in programming and system administration.

Anyway, "I started patching a module for work, found a bug in the core, and Justin (Erenkrantz) said submit a patch, so I did. A couple of years later I was a committer." Before leaving for Cloudkick he had risen to be  vice president for infrastructure with the Apache Software Foundation.

It can happen that fast, it can start from anywhere, and you don't have to be old to be a wizard. Just be good at what you do, be willing to work, play well with others, and you too can be a knight at the Apache round table, with the power to make your dreams come true.

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