San Diego, CA: At LinuxCon, the Linux Foundation‘s annual North American technical conference, Jim Zemlin’s, the Foundation’s executive director said, “If you are going to master software development, you must master open source.”
Why is it important for businesses to master open source? Zemlin said it’s because “Software is the future of IT. Hardware is important to enable software, but what I mean that the value that end-users sees from technology increasingly comes from the software.”
He then showed a slide of half-a-dozen smartphones that were turned off and pointed out that even with a very technical crowd, “If you just look at the hardware of smartphones, you can’t tell them apart, it’s only when you turn them on that you can tell the differences.”
Zemlin said that all successful tech companies are now using and contributing to open source communities. “Besides the usual suspects–Amazon, Google, IBM– there are companies that you may not think of as being big open-source companies, even competitors, now admit that they must participate in open source.”
Like who? Zemlin pointed out that “Microsoft is now supporting Linux in their cloud. Not because they want to, but because their customers demand it.”
In addition, VMware just acquired Nicira, an important OpenStack. Indeed, VMware, a champion of the closed virtualization and cloud position, has just submitted an application to join the OpenStack Foundation.
Even Apple, Zemlin observed “one of the most closed companies in the world, uses a lot of open source. If you look inside the Apple’s iPhone legal agreements you’ll find GPL code there.” In addition, “Apple bought CUPS (Common Unix Printing System), an open-source project” a few years ago. So while Apple may be closed, it certainly understands the value of open source. Indeed, Mac OS X is built on a foundation of Darwin/Mach—BSD Unix-based operating systems.
Zemlin’s not the only one seeing this marriage of open-source and corporate IT. Tim Yeaton CEO of Black Duck Software recently blogged, “Corporate IT has made extensive use of open source code for years. Gartner reported that on average, 29% of deployed code was open source, and that by 2015 at least 95% of mainstream IT organizations will leverage open source solutions within mission critical software deployments. So while open source code is being widely adopted, it’s only recently that corporate IT became interested in the efficiencies of the open, collaborative creation process itself. Projects spin up quickly and attract contributors organically without advertising or hiring; large distributed teams produce high quality innovative code with little overhead; and it’s all done completely in the open.”
“Open collaborative development via communities is widely understood and accepted, and corporate IT organizations are realizing that these characteristics can be applied to improve their internal development as well, and many are looking to apply them to enhance their own internal methods, typically in conjunction with adopting agile or lean methodologies.”
In short, welcome to IT software development in 2012, welcome to open source.