Gluu has both a social and a business mission. These missions need not be at odds. In fact they are symbiotic. The business vision of Gluu is quite simple: offer a utility service to help organizations control access to valuable online resources. Our social mission is to make the Internet a safer place for people and businesses by writing great open source software.
When Gluu came in existence in 2009, Web access management tools were too expensive for many organizations. There are millions of domains on the Internet. Access management software like Siteminder had a small impact because only the Fortune 500 could afford it. Open source software was piece of the solution. The other piece was to provide a cost effective mechanism to enable organizations to support the open source software, so they could build and operate a mission critical IT service.
Utilities provide the economies of scale to drive down the cost of technology, making it available to a wider audience. At the dawn of the electric era, only the largest companies could afford electricity. They built power plants on rivers. It wasn’t until the advent of electric utilities that drove down the price of electricity that small businesses and ordinary people could use it. Big businesses also benefited–they no longer had to build and maintain their own power plants.
Gluu’s utility access management service funds our social mission. To make the Internet a safer place, we need to make security software more available to developers and system administrators. The infrastructure we are building today will provide a coral reef on which a diverse ecosystem of new Internet services can thrive.
Networks have an ebb and flow of centralization and decentralization. At first, a technology is introduced by an innovative company. For-profit companies inevitably are quicker to invent products to address market needs. Over time, standards emerge, and the networks decentralize. We saw it with Compuserve and Email, AOL and the Web. With better identity standards, Google and Facebook may get their comeuppance. In the 90’s, it would have been crazy to imagine every organization launching their own AOL. And yet, that is exactly what the Web made possible. And the result of this was a network richer and more diverse than any media executive at AOL ever imagined. Furthermore, the Web was hacked to achieve purposes never envisioned by AOL executives.
Internet identity is at a similar stage as the Web in 1995. Right now we use services like Dropbox, Google and other centralized services to share files and data. These services rely on us having accounts in the central node. I can only share a doc on Google with you if you have a Google account. Or worse… services rely on security by obscurity (which is not really security at all). With standards and open source software, each domain could build their own data federation services like Google, or perhaps new services that no Google engineer has even imagined.
This trans-formative vision for a decentralized and safer Internet motivates our team at Gluu. And hopefully we’ll also make some money. If we can do a little of both, or a lot of both, we’ll be satisfied that struggle was worth it.