ISV Partnership @ Clever CloudBy Laurent Doguin,
There have been some changes in licensing models for certain software vendors recently, Elastic in particular. While we are not going to go over those in detail, we want to reassure you that Clever Cloud is an Elastic official partner, and as such nothing changes for our customers. We will continue to support and extend our Elastic integration.
Now that it has been cleared out let me tell you more about how we envision partnership at Clever Cloud. We believe that Cloud providers, as infrastructure providers, should be enablers of other Software Vendors. It might seem like a triviality but seeing how some other cloud providers behave, it seems unclear.
Responsabilities as a Service
A cloud provider is infrastructure. Infrastructure is a necessary condition to business. Being necessary can put you in an abusive position. It’s even more true when you have a monopolistic position on a market. Basically you can behave like a bully or a child.
If you want to address AWS or the Apple store users, you have to play by their rules. And the bigger they are the more they get to decide what rules apply. This also gives them power to retaliate.
They could for instance tell the world they are in a partnership with you while it’s false. Some will take it for granted because they don’t necessarily know you. Then offer the same service without giving back, capitalizing on all the efforts made by the vendor and its community.
Here we need to state that laws and regulations have always lagged behind innovation in the Software industry. This is partly the reason why we see new Software licences(AGPL, SSPL and the likes) being adopted to protect IPs or trademarks from possible abuse.
That’s not right. Usually supporters of these methods will answer something like “yes but it’s legal”. Resorting to this authority argument usually means you have nothing else to say and know you are losing ground on everything else. (and in Elastic’s case, the “it’s legal” argument hardly holds as AWS has been abusing Elastic’s trademark).
It’s about doing the right thing. Don’t be a bully.
Because we think it’s important to do what’s right, we have always had the following approach towards Vendors.
Before providing anything as a service we propose a revenue sharing model: the vendor gets a cut of the money we made with the product. This is currently the best way we found to respect a cloud consumption/pay as you go model. Granted this goes against the traditional yearly subscription model and how sales teams traditionally operate. But we are talking about a partnership here.
What can Clever Cloud bring you?
If this is of interest to you let's go quickly over some Clever Cloud facts.
- Clever Cloud is a European company and as such is not subjected to the US Cloud Act.
- It works as a public, private, hybrid or on-premises cloud, and is available on other public Cloud like OVH, and several others are planned this year.
- As our infrastructure and orchestrator is proprietary we will manage all the product integration, which usually results in 0 integration cost for the vendor.
- We will handle level1/level2 support.
When integrating a product we make sure we don't require any help from the vendor, to result in us sending them money every quarter without any effort on their part. They should not have to engage resources. It’s our job to provide this for them. This situation is often reversed because of the monopolistic situation of the major Cloud providers.
Let it be known that we always come to vendors with this proposal when considering to add their product to our catalog. And we have had a wide range of reactions. From “why would you give me money this is open source” to “You need to buy this much upfront. If you can’t why don’t you ask your VCs to pitch in ?”. And everything you can think of in the middle.
Again, Cloud providers must be enablers for software vendors.
Our Technical Differencies
Running a cloud platform is something technical and as such we have several specificity you may want to know about:
There is always a point in our conversation where we talk about how the vendor support team can only support us if we use this specific version of Linux. And as it turns out we use a different version than most. We rely on Exherbo, an upstream, source based distribution. Here's two main points to why.
Being upstream allows us to use the latest version of each software, with the latest security patches. Look there was a time where it was super important to be on a battle-tested version of X or y. Because the primary security issue was to avoid segfault. It was a software stability issue. it's 2021. Things have changed. The main security concern is to have your SSL library up to date to protect yourself from external attack. Take the heartbleed security bug for instance. Our infrastructure was long patched when this became a known issue.
Being source based allows us to be in control. We can patch all our infrastructure faster. And since we compile everything we make sure it's optimized for the hardware it runs on. Most other distributions are just compiled to support everything, so it's optimized for nothing. It's the price to pay for genericity.
This is also the reason why as a PaaS provider we encourage people to simply deploy their source code instead of an unoptimized binary. And why when we provide closed source solutions, we are more than happy to sign an NDA to access the sources and make sure it's compiled for our platform. In this process we are also more than happy to contribute anything we may find interesting.
Become a Registered ISV
Now you should have a fairly good understanding of our partnership vision, and the role we envision for Cloud providers in our global economy. If you are a software vendor looking for a partnership, we would be happy to talk :)
Simply send us an email to email@example.com.
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Head of Developer Relation @clever_cloud. Devoxx Champion. I am also a nerdy metal head living in Paris.