Vendor Commitment to Open Source Remains Strong

With daily developments in cloud, virtualization, SaaS, and other developing IT submarkets, some wonder if open source will be adversely affected, by licensing or otherwise. Will open source survive the changing landscape? My Magic 8-Ball says: It is certain..

Fellow NetworkWorld blogger Alan Shimel asks an interesting question about licensing in the cloud model. Might the lack of software distribution stall out development efforts? Other worries about acquisitions destroying valuable open source projects continue to surface. What's on the horizon? Schedules at upcoming industry conferences are revealing indicators. Consider the speaker line-up at LinuxCon in mid-August: * Ravi Simhambhatla, Chief Information Officer at Virgin America * Chris Wright, Red Hat * Bdale Garbee, Hewlett-Packard * Tim Bird, Sony Corporation * Wim Coekaerts, Senior Vice President, Linux and Virtualization Engineering, Oracle Corporation * David Rientjes, Google Many of the biggest players in the next generation IT markets have significant representation at the year's biggest open source event. A similar story is told at O'Reilly's OSCON: * Eric Day (Rackspace Cloud) * Joe Gregorio (Google), Dan Peterson (Google) * Krishna Sankar (Cisco Systems Inc) * Erik Meijer (Microsoft) * John Mertic (SugarCRM) Yes indeed, the vendors are using open source and they're giving back in a big way. Notably absent is representation from Amazon, a big innovator and obvious beneficiary of open source products. Vendors actively contributing for their own benefit, too. Consider Jon Corbet's 2007 analysis of the 2.6.20 Linux kernel, where he found that as much as 65% of the code contributed to that version was from paid developers. Some specific vendor contributions to Linux include: * AIO subsystem, Btrfs, Libstdc++, NFS via IPv6 (Oracle) * Hyper-V virtualization drivers (Microsoft) * Ongoing significant commitment from IBM * Hardware and energy efficiency (Intel) Make no mistake - these are the same companies that will build the cloud in the coming years. Open source is once again proving its agility and nimbleness as this new space develops. Open projects such as Delta Cloud, Eucalyptus, TerraCotta, Drupal, Xen, and Hadoop, are defining the next generation of technologies. Some companies will surely consume these tools but not contribute, and others will give back. Facebook, for instance, contributed Cassandra, which has resulted in a surge of popularity in NoSQL database development. (Similarly, Voldemort from LinkedIn). Memcached, originally used by LiveJournal, improves performance through clever caching methods, and is now in use at the world's largest web sites. Vendors also agree that interoperability creates a healthy marketplace, and their cooperative efforts stem open standards and new software. The vendors team up through organizations like the Linux Foundation, the Linux Standards Base, the Open Source Initiative, and the Free Software Foundation to synchronize efforts. These foster innovation and increase transparency, all good things for open source. I, for one, welcome our new open source overlords.

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