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BLOG: Worried your cloud service will die? Get open source insurance

Simon Phipps | March 26, 2013
By killing Reader, Google may have done us a favor, focusing attention on the power of open standards and open source in protecting us against the whims of service providers

Second, use federated services. Need instant messaging? Pick XMPP (Jabber) instead of a proprietary protocol, then implement it on your own domain using an open source service. Want microblogging? Use open source software like Status.Net or and federate it into Twitter, rather than directly using Twitter. Want VoIP communications? Run your own SIP services with something like Asterisk, and configure them so that your staff email addresses can be used for direct calls from software like Ekiga. You'll also need to bridge out to services like Skype and the telephone network, but do it on your own terms. Need a blog? Install WordPress rather than using a proprietary service like Blogger. You get the picture.

Maybe that's too much work -- so pick the same standards and open source software, but have them hosted for you. For example, Automattic will host WordPress blogs for you using the same open source software you'd install yourself. If there is ever any reason for you to part company with Automattic as a supplier, you can simply export your data and run your own instance. To do this rehosting move smoothly, you'll need to make thoughtful choices -- especially about identity management -- but by picking open standards and open source, you can ensure your flexibility remains high and with it your ability to keep costs low and "supplier-induced strategic change" to a minimum.

Maybe we should be grateful to Google for killing Reader. It has provided us all with an opportunity to think about the services we're using on the Internet and to make sure we're able to "rehost and carry on" in the event of change. Happy Document Freedom Day!


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