Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CloudSpokes - Where Do the Winners Go?

We want to thank all of our developer registrants and contest participants that have already gotten involved with CloudSpokes. Your creativity and skills are exactly what we were hoping for when we launched this crowdsourced community for cloud development (see also April Update on CloudSpokes Gives Back).

One of my favorite parts of CloudSpokes is that it helps separate signal from noise in the cloud for developer. For example, if a developer can’t easily and freely get access to all the resources they need, then we can’t run a contest because there is a barrier to participation. The public cloud allows crowdsourcing and collective innovation - try that with your Oracle cloud-in-a-box!

Our hope is CloudSpokes provides a marketplace to connect aspiring cloud developers and enterprises with cloud development needs. While Appirio has guaranteed at least a million dollars in contests, we think that’s just the beginning and expect many SaaS providers and enterprise customers to run contests in the coming months. In fact, we have already run anonymous contests for enterprise customers and Twilio has recently launched its first challenge on CloudSpokes.

The Basic Anatomy of a Contest
When we initially launched CloudSpokes, we received many questions on whether we’d open source the contests results, if Appirio owned the IP or something else. So we wanted to take a moment to walk through how all of that works.

By default the sponsor of a contest agrees to pay the winner(s) and in return receives the results of that work. The winner(s) exchange their work for the winnings - transferring all rights to the sponsor to do with what they’d like. This would allow a sponsor to build parts of their commerical ISV app, businesses or services teams to put out contests for key project requirements, or for either to forward invest in creating reusable components for future work.

If you participate in the contest but do not win, you grant the sponsor the right to use your work, but you retain rights to do whatever you’d like with it as well. In addition, in both cases CloudSpokes is given the right to display your work and use it for educational purposes (but not granted any commercial rights). This is useful as we will often use the winning submission to help other participants in the contest learn and develop their cloud skills.

All of this encourages and allow ISVs and clients to promote real world problems as contests managed through CloudSpokes. The sponsors (like Appirio) or customers are running these contests to aid in their development for a specific engagement or project. In those cases they are using Cloudspokes to help advance their projects or strategy - paying contest winners for the desired work.

These rules apply to all sponsors and participants, there are no special additional rights granted to Appirio as a sponsor. In some cases terms will be different from the above for a specific contest, but if so those will always be clearly spelled out when you register for that contest.

How Does Open Source Fit In ?
One of the drivers for starting CloudSpokes was to share innovation and inspire everyone to become a cloud developer. So for a number of contests the various sponsors have agreed to share the winning submission of the contest with the world.

For example, our Oauth2 with OmniAuth contest for Force.com, the Beat Jeff Douglas Firefox Extension, and the Facebook Like Box Visual Force Component are all examples of contests we are open sourcing or donating to their relevant projects. In the future, where it is known in advance, we will clearly identify if a contest will definitely be open sourced (exact license model for this will be dependent on related projects and the sponsor)

We are looking for more open source contest to help drive forward with the cloud - so your ideas are welcome !


  1. Related questions are (a) can i use an open source library in my submission? if so which license types are ok? (e.g. is the content winners code is to become part of a commercial application of the sponsor, they probably don't want GPL dependencies)

    (b) can i submit an open source application as an entry?

    Seems like the contents need to detail some of these types of issues more clearly.

  2. Zak42,

    We only allow open source if specifically mentioned in the contest. If you think an open source project would help you, please post a note to your competition and the contest sponsor can approve a library for use.

    b) no

  3. Ummm, I am no lawyer but the terms on the site say this: http://www.cloudspokes.com/terms.html

    "By posting your User Content, you do not lose any ownership rights you may have to it. However, unless otherwise governed by a specific contest’s rules, you do grant us a worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully-paid, sublicenseable (through multiple tiers of distribution) and transferable license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform your User Content in connection with the Website and our business, in any media formats or in tangible form and through any media channels now known or hereinafter developed."

    There is nothing stated that if you win a contest you lose ALL rights to the content, as mentioned in the blog post above. I was under the impression the content is shared with the sponsor and they can then use it or modify it with out the need to pay royalties, etc. But I still retained ownership and was free to use the content and build upon it as I wish. If this is not the case I will need to more carefully consider what contests I enter.

  4. Our default rules are pretty clear (sentence #1) that "By posting your user content, you do not lose your ownership rights you have to it." Yes, there are license rights that you grant -- without it, CloudSpokes couldn't exist, as no one would be able to utilize any value from it. Beyond that, we -- and individual contest sponsors -- reserve the right on an individual contest level to request the IP as stated in the blog post. When you register for a contest, the specific contest may have different terms (a pop up click through will appear with terms). We also plan on releasing many of these contests as open source which you will see soon.

  5. Cool, thanks. That's what I thought but the wording in the post above threw me off a little.