I caught up on the emails, so I can get to the long response that this one needs :)
I started writing Salt last year in February, my original intention was to create a generic remote execution system that was fast enough to use as an API for controlling large groups of servers, primarily because I wanted to use it as the backbone to a simplified private cloud controller (That was butter - https://github.com/thatch45/butter
- don't use it, future plans are in another direction). I thought the project was mostly just for fun up until October 2011 when the first company came to me and asked for help setting up Salt States because they wanted to migrate away from Puppet. If you go back and look at the impact graph in github or on the Ohloh stats that there was far less code and the community was much smaller, we had about 15 people in IRC and 17 code contributors.
Shortly after this engagement started with my first production States deployment someone in the community (I think if was SEJeff or Whiteinge, but I don't remember for sure) suggested that I go on FLOSS Weekly. I decided that it might be fun and would not hurt anything so I emailed Randal Schwartz about it. After the interview (found here: http://twit.tv/show/floss-weekly/191
) salt traction picked up a great deal, and I decided to form Salt Stack, LLC and start to explore how to make money with Salt. If you look at the developer traction that Salt gained in November and December you will see what I mean!
At the end of December my employer (Beyond Oblivion) went out of business and I was left without a job, while a stream of offers came in, I decided to try and turn Salt Stack into a viable company. Quickly I was contacted by a number of investors who wanted me to stop making Salt open source. I tried to explain to these people that this would kill Salt overnight, they did not understand, so I told them to take a hike. I spent the next few months working to get the state system to a more reliable place and filling out features that I felt would be critical for enterprise deployments.
In the mean time I had a few consulting jobs but have avoided being too pro active in seeking work, primarily because I wanted to grow the code and community to a healthier place before getting too bogged down in work. But about 2 months ago I started looking more aggressively into raising capital and securing customers. Right now we have a number of support customers and I have been absent from the development this last week because I decided to update the training for some new customers (it is very cool now, all the labs use salt-cloud and it walks the students through building a real deployment out on EC2).
So that's the story, what about the plan then you are asking? As for an enterprise version, I am planning on one, but it is not what you have suggested! The main Salt code it getting rapid releases and massive contributions, it has proven itself as a great platform for rapid development, I don't want to hinder that at all! So the plan is to create a long term supported version of Salt that would still be open source and have all the same policies about contributions as Salt. This version will pass through more aggressive testing and QA, and will only be released every 6-9 months. The idea being, that it will be a better platform for Salt Stack to support without slowing down the innovation and excitement around the rapid release branch. This I feel also adds a great deal of credibility to companies seeking to use Salt.
Now there are a lot of monetization plans beyond this enterprise version, but none of them change how the community is structured and how Salt is developed and made available, and none of them involve making Salt code proprietary! The primary goal of my company, Salt Stack, is to make software that is fantastic, to make software that will endure, and make software that can meet the needs of the widest possible audience while still being easy to use and easy to understand. A proprietary enterprise fork would greatly damage our ability to meet these goals, Proprietary software dies, it does not grow with companies and customers' needs, and it kills innovation.
I want to apologize that I have not been as attentive over the last few weeks, the business demands have been very high, and there are only about 18 hours I can work in a day while maintaining some degree of sanity. I can't thank you all enough for your help and support of Salt, as I originally hoped, making Salt open source really has enabled us all to create a fantastic system, it is something that I am deeply convinced could and can never happen in a proprietary setting. Since the updated training course is almost ready, salt cloud 0.7.0 (it is awesome, stateful management of public cloud vms!) is nearing completion, and some of the company needs are getting wrapped up I will be back in the Salt saddle about 40 hours a week again soon!
- Thomas S Hatch
- CEO, Salt Stack