Warning: Satire Ahead. Not to be taken internally.
Each year on a special day, we Americans sit down to feast, watch football (no, the American kind), and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. In honor of the Thanksgiving football tradition, we offer some notes on some sneaky plays that may be run between the offense (network solution vendors) and the defense (network buyers) in the contests coming up this fall.
In a hyper-competitive league that includes the best teams, there exists today a win-at-any-cost mentality that can tempt some ambitious teams to live at the very edges of what the rules allow. The open-source league, which started off as a casual pastime between graduate students and uber-nerds, has become big business played on the world’s biggest stage. As students of the game, we will attempt to shed some daylight on a few plays that are sometimes attempted in the darker shadows of the arena.
In this case, one team deploys its defensive backs into the project-committer “gatekeeper” formation. This soft zone coverage allows the opponent to move its patches up the field, but knocks them away at the last minute, refusing to allow the commit through sheer athleticism. If the defender is “too busy to review,” the back judge may allow him to get away with this contact foul.
On this play, the quarterback takes the solution that has already shipped, runs it over to the IETF, creates an “informational RFC,” and uses this to trick the unwitting defense, which becomes victim of the old “high margin play.” Smart defenses will pick up this play by noticing when the IETF informational formation is brought in. For an offense built on misdirection, this play can be very successful. Also known as the old “open-washing” play by savvy defenses.
The Chop Block
This play can be used by any team and is so diabolical that it bears special mention. For this maneuver, one side sets up with some valuable proprietary software, with differentiation that commands a commercial premium. They expect to score. The chop block comes when another company announces that its similar software has been open-sourced, thus driving its commercial revenue value rapidly to zero. This is a dirty play, and can end the career of an opposing player. In the NFL, defenders know that this sort of cheap shot to the knees is the only way to stop Rob Gronkowski in the open field.
Piling On (The old “Stack Topper”)
This play is not really sporting, but is allowed under the current rules. Here, one steals the show by climbing over the top of opposing players. If, hypothetically, one team had a control solution that covered the entire network part of the field, the opposing player could jump on the pile, creating a whole new layer of cloud control that subsumes the network control and allows them to gather in all the love from the adoring fans. The team that ends up on the top of the pile in a hotly contested software stack is likely the winner when the game ends.
This discretionary call will be made by some officials any time a player with a marketing jersey enters the field of play. The call becomes mandatory if the marketing-back actually claims that a proprietary solution is open because it has open interfaces. Gross violations can also be assessed as embellishment penalties, and in some leagues there’s quite a bit of this sort of “diving.”
Some teams just don’t have the level of athleticism that allows the elite players to commit (the only way to finish a patch play). On more than one occasion, a team has been able to “outsource” its commit by sneaking a player who is actually a free agent onto the field wearing the home jersey. There is an entire shadow league, the so-called services league that exists only to supply these “pay to commit” ringers.
Great things are coming from the open-source arenas around the network world. We hope the knowledge gained from this little playbook will allow you to become a more educated student of the game.