We've all gotten pretty comfortable with supporting Open Source apps that utilize a LAMP stack, Wordpress being a good case in point. This model works very well, generally speaking, but there are a couple problems with it, from the perspective of cloud computing.
- First of all, if you use something like Wordpress, you regularly need to update your code and you need to deal with various compatibilities as you migrate systems. I really like applications that just kind of upgrade themselves over time, like GMail.
- Second, applications that are installed as single instances on multiple servers can't leverage Web 2.0 style network effects like single installation, web scale applications can (eg Flickr, YouTube, WorldCat.org (what, did, I just call an OCLC product Web 2.o?), etc.).
We're eager to try it out here at Lewis & Clark. To get it up and running on our server, I had to upgrade MySQL from 4 to 5. This broke our compiled version of PHP. A newly downloaded version of PHP fixed things, but that broke a couple other components on our web site. A few hours later, all was well, but the point is, loading and running something like Omeka does still require some "heavy lifting" on a sysadmin's part.
The other element lacking in Omeka is the fact that its data isn't part of a larger system. Sure it's harvestable and can be syndicated through RSS, but it's not part of a greater, two-way information ecosystem.
So how should Open Source projects be done in this cloud computing environment? Code should be shared and improved by a community and those improvements should be tested and then applied to a centralized running instance of the application.
Google has just released a platform that would work well for this sort of model, called "Google App Engine."