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
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
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...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
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...
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...