Welcome!

Eclipse Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, David H Deans, JP Morgenthal

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers

Java IoT: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: Open Source is Open to Debate

Microsoft, Intel, Sun, IBM and Others Get Drawn Into It

One would think that defining the term "Open Source" is a simple task. After all, an environment is either open or it's not, right? To believe this would be to believe that corporations always have your interests at heart, that there is one true religion, and that politicians play fair.

For the current debate over Open Source involves a number of major corporations, is often religious in tone, and is relentlessly political.

The most recent major development came last week when the Open Source Initiative board held its Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, at which it clarified its stance by stating that "license proliferation has become a significant barrier to open-source deployment-approved licenses must meet three new criteria of being a) non-duplicative, b) clear and understandable, and c) reusable." It added that it will adopt "a three-tier system in which licenses are classified as preferred, approved or deprecated."

The OSI's statement does not legally bind anyone to comply with specific guidelines or to behave in any particular way when developing and marketing its own "open source" products. And therein lies either the problem (if one believes in de jure standards and practices) or the opportunity (if one believes in de facto standards and practices).

The realm of SYS-CON Media publications--which embraces Java, Microsoft .Net, and Linux--encompasses much of the debate about Open Source, with advocates from all sides getting their points across in print and online. SYS-CON, as the world's leading i-technology media company, is able to accommodate the diverse points of view inherent in this debate.

And the debate can get fierce. Most industry cognoscenti are well-aware of a lawsuit filed by SCO against IBM regarding what could be viewed as arcane and abstruse pieces of potential intellectual property. This story has been well-reported at www.linuxbusinessweek.com as well as at an oddly-named website purporting to cover aspects of Internet Age law but actually focusing on this case and on the coverage of Linux Business Week!

But this story hardly merits the only place at the table of Open Source debate. Many of the industry's big gorillas are sitting at the adults' table as well, including Microsoft, Intel, and Sun Microsystems.

The latter company has already displeased some members of the Open Source community with its CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), which is not compatible with at the GNU General Public License, the source of the Open Source movement and foundation upon which Linux was built.

Intel has cautiously moved to remove its Open Source License as an approved OSI open-source approach. And the OSI has deemed that all "asymmetrical, corporate licenses (have) failed. (Our) new policy will discourage them (in the future.)"

On a slightly different tack, Microsoft would also argue that its .NET application development environment provides the best openness and flexibility on the market. Sun would argue the same for J2EE. Yet, in a special to LinuxWorld, developer and writer Steve Michel stated his support of Linux-driven LAMP rather than drinking "the .NET or J2EE Kool-Aid." (see www.linuxworld.com/story/49141.htm)

The fact is, every major hardware and software company had better have its Open Source "golden pitch" ready for eager customers who have tried to abandon proprietary systems (and their anticipated expense over the long haul) for less expensive, "open" systems over the past few years.

This thinking has driven Dell from an interesting Top Three PC distributor to an industry colossus that is driving toward a goal of $80 billion in annual revenues. But is a Dell system running Linux really "open?" Microsoft would argue that there are more third-party applications for its Windows software than for any other environment, making a traditional Dell Wintel machine no less open than one driven by Linux. Yet anyone closely associated with the "Open Source movement" would howl at this assertion.

The OSI seems well-aware of this confusion, noting that a problem with its open-source definition is that it "did not specifically address was deployment." No kidding. It also notes "code written under different licenses gets mixed together, combined in new source code, linked in the same runtime, called from the same script, included on the same media."

The bottom-line to this situation, the OSI believes, is that "partisans of a particular license and companies will have to give up their vanity projects. The day of the open-source license as tribal flag or corporate monument will have to come to a close."

Given the instinct of corporations to promulgate their "standards" come hell or high water, this may be unlikely. Also unlikely to be fulfilled is the OSI sentiment that "open-source licenses are written to serve people who are not attorneys, and they need to be comprehensible by people who are not attorneys."

The reality is that the use of attorneys may be the bright spot in this story, as it keeps people from drawing guns at the OK Corral. This story is very complex, involves the future of many large IT providers, and will continue to be a top-tier story for developers and corporate IT execs for years to come. Watch this space as we seek opinions from all sides to tell us what the situation is exactly, and what their companies intend to do about it.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (4)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.