Rocana Open Sources “Osso”: Why Freeing the Data is Meaningful for IT Leadership

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Just in time for Strata NYC, IT Operations Big Data firm, Rocana, has open-sourced Osso, its formerly proprietary schema-definition model for serialized data. It’s a bold move, especially for a startup, but it positions Rocana as an innovator in the space.

Rocana introduces Osso as “…a modern standard for representing event-oriented data in high-throughput operational systems. It uses existing open source standards for schema definition and serialization, but adds semantic meaning and definition to make integration between systems easy, while still being size- and processing-efficient.” Translation: it’s a modern way of representing fine-grained event data by ensuring meaning between schema, semantics, and code.

As an OS project, it overlaps some existing efforts to create context in log data by getting information from devices (Sylog, SNMP). Rocana tags its Osso open-sourcing (to Github) in an effort to “free the data.” And in a sense, it does that, establishing a standard schema for serializing event data. In its Osso “manifesto,” Rocana preaches of the fall of the wall between transactional and operational data.

Putting IT at the Center of the Enterprise Data Universe

By creating both context, content, and terminology, Rocana aims to give a broader view of impact with an aim towards total operational visibility. By creating enhanced visibility, we can create better understanding of what is happening across systems and services – from devices and infrastructure to users and transactions – making us more efficient in both code we write and third-party code that we adopt or buy.

Rocana knows its audience. Rocana’s core data-integration technology targets IT professionals. (Compare/contrast Rocana’s audience-specific data-integration technology targeting with a company like Adaptive Insights, which, analogously, serves data-integration technology to empower financial stakeholders.) Indeed, Rocana’s messaging (and deployment strategy) puts IT organizations at the center of digital transformation in the enterprise. With Rocana, IT leads become data arbiters. Call it aspirational, call it empowering, but it’s a compelling technology (and marketing message) for IT leads, particularly those with organizations trying to shift away from centralized IT control.

Open-sourcing Osso returns more control to IT organizations by giving them the power to customize and extend data integration (particularly with regard to ops data). This allows an enterprise IT team to serve as an internal data broker, offering services (including custom data extension work, or introduction of new data services) to functional stakeholder internal customers (e.g., CMO, CFO, etc.).

This is interesting from a business model standpoint. By open-sourcing its core event-based data model, Rocana (rather riskily) makes the play for an event-based data standard, and pushes itself into a services delivery play. (In that sense, it’s analogous to other open-source initiatives—think CloudFoundry for PaaS, or Apache Spark for Hadoop performance acceleration.) As shown by other technology vendors (i.e. IBM, SAP), opening up a platform for sharing best practices does drive user involvement in the standard.

Potential Outcomes

Rocana’s open-source move could lead to one or more industry outcomes:

    1. “Wow, this is great!” – Competitors adopt the standard, deploy it within their own services and technologies.
    2. “I can resell this!” – Secondary market opens with consulting/SI firms packaging value-added services for Osso, possibly as part of larger solutions.
    3. “Ho hum.” – The status quo remains, developer uptake stalls, Osso is relegated to only Rocana audiences.

Most likely, we’ll see a mix of all three.

But part of the manifesto brings a valid point to the table: “Event data must be open to be useful.” In acknowledging that openness creates community knowledge and greater understanding, the events in the ecosystem need to be exposed and open to create those efficiencies that the business requires to better support operations.

How This Will Succeed: Audience-Specific Evangelism

Successful open-source initiatives require two key audience adoption criteria, and this effort is no different.

First, Rocana (well, Rocana and Osso-community proponents) must quickly establish a loyal developer community. Ideally, that’s a community creating (and documenting) creative use of the open-source technology, and sharing best-practice examples on Github.

Second, Rocana must get partners onboard adopting Osso as an event-based data standard. And yes, that probably means Splunk, too. In a rather competitive environment (indeed, one that has the potential to devolve into petty bickering), that’s a tall order.

Achieving those two audience-adoption criteria will require Rocana to spread the word and gather event data trail blazers in this regard. Rocana is up for the challenge, so watch this space…

About Dr. Alea Fairchild

Dr. Alea Fairchild is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Blue Hill Research. As a technology commentator, she has a broad presence both in the traditional media and online. Alea covers the convergence of technology in the cloud, mobile, and social spaces, and helps global enterprises understand the competitive marketplace and to profit from digital process redesign. She has expertise in the following industries: industrial automation, computer/networking, telecom, financial services, media, transport logistics, and manufacturing. Her clients are both commercial, government / public sector, NGO and trade associations. Dr. Fairchild received her Ph.D in Applied Economics from Limburgs Universitair Centrum (now Univ. Hasselt) in Belgium, in the area of banking and technology. She has a Masters degree in International Management from Boston University/Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, and a Bachelors degree in Business Management and Marketing from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. She is a masters Olympic weightlifter for Belgium, having won many international medals.

About Toph Whitmore

Toph Whitmore is a Blue Hill Research principal analyst covering the Big Data, analytics, marketing automation, and business operations technology spaces. His research interests include technology adoption criteria, data-driven decision-making in the enterprise, customer-journey analytics, and enterprise data-integration models. Before joining Blue Hill Research, Toph spent four years providing management consulting services to Microsoft, delivering strategic project management leadership. More recently, he served as a marketing executive with cloud infrastructure and Big Data software technology firms. A former journalist, Toph's writing has appeared in GigaOM, DevOps Angle, and The Huffington Post, among other media. Toph resides in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he is active in the local tech startup community as an angel investor and corporate advisor.
Posted on September 26, 2016 by Dr. Alea Fairchild;  Toph Whitmore

One Response to Rocana Open Sources “Osso”: Why Freeing the Data is Meaningful for IT Leadership

  1.  avatar me says:

    Data does not need to be in an open system for it to be useful. It needs to be accessible. I don’t really care if it’s open source or proprietary – as long as I can get at it. As long as they have robust API’s, then I’m happy. Technologies will changes just as quickly as vendor choices.

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