This post is from conversations with Matt Rocklin and others at the PANGEO developer meeting at NCAR

Today, almost all of ‘the cloud’ is run by ruthlessly competitive hypercapitalist large scale organizations. This is great & terrible.

When writing open source applications that primarily run on the cloud, I try to make sure my users (primarily people deploying my software for their users) have the following freedoms:

  1. They can run the software on any cloud provider they choose to
  2. They can run the software on a bunch of computers they physically own, with the help of other open source software only

Ensuring these freedoms for my users requires the following restrictions on me:

  1. Depend on Open Source Software with hosted cloud versions, not proprietary cloud-vendor-only software.

    I’ll use PostgreSQL over Google Cloud Datastore. Kubernetes with autoscaling over talking to the EC2 api directly.

  2. Use abstractions that allow swappable implementations anytime you have to talk to a cloud provider API directly.

    Don’t talk to the S3 API directly, but have an abstract interface that defines exactly what your application needs, and then write an S3 implementation for it. Ideally, also write a minio / ceph / file-system implementation for it, to make sure your abstraction actually works.

These are easy to follow once you are aware of them, and provide good design tradeoffs for Open Source projects. Remember these are necessary but not sufficient to ensure some of your users’ fundamental freedoms.