Open for Business

Friday, April 08, 2005

IBM: Open up or else...

Speaking at the Open Source Business Conference today, IBM's VP of technology and strategy Irving Wladawsky-Berger confirmed IBM's strong support for open source.
"A big part of your power is to have your people work with the communities and donate some of your intellectual property to those communities so they can get better. Then you build proprietary offerings on top of the open-source platform," said Wladawsky-Berger. The best example is IBM's commitment to promote Linux for years. IBM assigned hundreds of programmers to improve it. Also, IBM donated the very popular Eclipse development platform to the community. At the same time, IBM sells loads of proprietary software, including its WebSphere and DB2. Obviously IBM is not in this for charity, the push for Linux is not for the love of the community but to hurt their Redmond-based competitor. To show their commitment to OSS, IBM is willing to go even further, they announced earlier this year that were going to donate 500 software patents to the OSS community. To keep things in perspective, IBM owns 10,000 software patents in the United States.

Perhaps the strongest statement made by IBM's Wladawsky-Berger at OSBC was that vendors who fail to adapt to open source won't be around five years from now.

I think that IBM has been the most aggressive of the big companies supporting OSS and turning it into an asset and a competitive weapon against competitors such as Microsoft, Oracle or Sun. Most of those competitors have been very quiet about their open source strategy and are still perceived in the open source industry as late comers at best.


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