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Authored by: Andy Updegrove on Monday, June 18 2007 @ 05:50 PM CDT

Not sure who Charlie-boy might be, but I'll see if I can channel for him.

Yes, I think that IBM is serious about open source, although from the fact that you are asking a question like this I should probably clarify what I mean by that (see below).

Clearly, to me at least, IBM has made a very serious commitment to open source, and one from which I can't imagine it turning back, at least absent systemic and fundamental changes in current marketplace trends.  Given that a major part of IBM's business and strategy is now dedicated to services rather than products, it makes sense to cut R&D costs athrough open source collaboration rather than proprietary development, and compete on their competitive strengths, such as their brand, global infrastructure and so on.  When you bet on products, you risk missing the boat every now and then.  When you focus on services, you can stay consistently among the top players if you simply stick to your knitting.  Net net, a services strategy is less risky than a product strategy - and you can even make money selling services based upon your competitors - such as Microsoft.

But perhaps your question was more in the nature of "Does IBM really support community open source?"  I'd say the answer to that is that they do as much as any big company does.  The community and the corporations' interests are mostly, but not entirely, aligned.  And it's not likely that either is going to kowtow totally to the other.  The fact that it has been such a successful and symbiotic relationship to date has been, I think, a truly remarkable phenomenon, and one that will be studied for many years to come.  The big question is whether this will settle in as a permanent part of the landscape, or whether one day the marraige will fall apart.

I enjoyed catching up with Steven Vaughn-Nichols at the Summit, by the way, and look forward to reading the articles that you mention.

  -  Andy 


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