A blog for the enterprise open source community
Open source disruption realizedJay Lyman, February 21, 2008 @ 4:42 pm ET
Open source fans are buzzing about Microsoft’s latest move to open its APIs, which follows along the path it has been on recently. Microsoft’s announced intention to open APIs to its Vista, .Net, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Office 2007, Exchange and Sharepoint software is no-doubt big, but it also comes as more and more traditional software and even hardware vendors tailor their strategies to address the pervasiveness of open source software in the enterprise.
Another announcement they may have been somewhat overshadowed by Microsoft’s ‘grand opening’ is chipmaker AMD’s new open source application library project, Framewave. AMD, which takes a step similar to what rival Intel did with its Threading Building Blocks (TBB) introduced last year, is trying to encourage more high-performance application development for its processors by establishing an open source community around its open, Apache-licensed AMD Performance Library, a set of more than 3,000 high-performance software routines.
One interesting and refreshing thing about these recent announcements: they involve actual open APIs and open code. We’ve all seen over the last five years how ‘open source’ has become something of a marketing buzzword and bandwagon. But now it seems clear that the bandwagon is actually moving along quite fast. Rather than vague, largely hollow promises or pledges to open source, we see vendors waking up to the fact that open source better darn well mean open code.
Sure, there are still limitations, restrictions, requirements and other strings that can tangle up the open source model, but this is progress from the more complicated developer contracts and limited access of the past. The way forward, even for the industry’s top silicon manufacturers and for the proprietary company that helped give birth to the open source movement, is open.
While some might argue this will weaken, dilute or otherwise disarm open source software and its vendors, I would say this is just another case of companies coming around to market realities. Look at it like the Internet. Did the Internet suffer when Microsoft finally came around and began supporting and focusing on really working with it? Hardly. The companies that have already focused on the enterprise potential and opportunities for open source software retain their lead. They may have to work harder to maintain it, but that is a good thing, both for users and for open source.
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