GE European CIO calls open source risky, playground — really?

Every once in awhile, we are reminded of years past and some of the old attitudes that used to be popular, but have lost credibility over time. The latest comes via a European CIO for GE, who reportedly describes open source as largely relegated to ‘playground’ development and a ‘huge risk’ in mission critical applications and uses.

First off, I would question how aware this CIO is of his company’s use of open source software, including but not limited to Linux, in production, mission-critical environments and applications. In fact, I have heard GE named by at least two open source software vendors I’ve talked with, and the deployments were most certainly not limited to any internal development or ‘playground’ setting. I also wrote about GE as one of the big brands that is using open source.

Second, we have seen a dramatic shift in the risk/benefit outlook on open source software in the enterprise. Driven largely by difficult economic conditions, tightened budgets and time and business pressures, customers who were previously unsure about open source software are now willing to live with that uncertainty and risk to give open source a chance. Our recent survey of open source software users and customers reinforces the idea that open source is now more positively associated with cost savings than it is negatively associated with risk. In response, open source seems to be largely passing the test, meeting or exceeding cost-savings expectations for nearly 90% of our more than 1,700 survey respondents.

Further evidence of open source acceptance and use can be found in a recent survey from Black Duck Software, which found that 22% of code in each of more than 170 sampled projects and applications is open source. What projects and applications to be specific and were they mission-critical? The list speaks for itself: voice applications, video applications, financial software, IT infrastructure, Web sites, customer relations applications, embedded solutions, desktop applications, businss process management, mobile infrastructure and handsets, e-commerce markets, defense electronics. Most if not all are arguably mission critical and most developers and administrators familiar with today’s markets and datacenters will tell you there is plenty of open source software throughout.

Still, there is room for nostalgia and remembering the days when open source software really was viewed as a ‘risk’ for production and mission-critical use. Let’s not forget, though, that those days are long gone.

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14 comments ↓

#1 Computer Internet and Technology Articles. » Blog Archive » 451 CAOS Theory » GE European CIO calls open source risky … on 11.30.09 at 8:03 pm

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#2 451 CAOS Theory » GE European CIO calls open source risky … | Open Hacking on 11.30.09 at 9:48 pm

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#3 Don Marti on 11.30.09 at 10:26 pm

Job postings are a much better guide to what is or isn’t mission critical than CIO interviews. GE uses Linux in MRI products:

For Sale GE Excite Twinspeed MRI Scanner
http://www.dotmed.com/listing/669212
Including a bunch of Linux software. Yes, a GE MRI machine runs Linux.

And here’s a job posting supporting Linux-based instruments, including MRI: http://www.corp-corp.com/js/js_view_job.aspx?js=538927&utm_source=SimplyHired&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=SimplyHired

#4 Jay Lyman on 12.01.09 at 12:11 am

Good point, Don. I’d agree that’s another place to find the real picture. Thanks for posting.

JL

#5 451 CAOS Theory » GE European CIO calls open source risky … CXO ceo cfo cto coo cio on 11.30.09 at 10:49 pm

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#8 CTRoma on 12.01.09 at 11:38 pm

These comments aren’t surprising – the CIO references ERP systems and core Oracle databases here as being irreplaceable. These are the programs that the CIO really cares about, the ones that the CEO probably asks him about. He might have bought these systems and used stuff like them when he was coming up in thw world. His big concern is that they stay up and that they work – he is not too concerned about functionality or price. He can live with a clumsy, heavy, overpriced app…..as long as he feels sure it wil stay up and he had somewhere to call if it goes down.

If a company that sells an open source product can give him that at a good price, he’ll buy it….

More at my blog at sellinghasvalue.com

#9 451 CAOS Theory » GE European CIO calls open source risky … Software Rss on 12.02.09 at 1:52 am

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#10 uberVU - social comments on 12.02.09 at 6:13 am

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by cdaffara: Jay Lyman on GE CIO: http://bit.ly/6HJ8xJ Excellent post. It is true that most CIO are not aware of their own deployments…..

#11 GE, Microsoft, Comcast and (Microsoft AstroTurf at) Twitter: Pact of Lies | Boycott Novell on 12.02.09 at 7:20 am

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#12 Fitzcarraldo on 12.02.09 at 7:55 am

So all those Linux servers used by the New York Stock Exchange and its European subsidiaries for their mission-critical trading are “risky” too then? And so are the Linux servers used at some large airports to support mission-critical terminal operations? And so are the Linux computers inside some X-ray machines? And how about all those supercomputers using Linux (for example at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the UK Met Office, to name but two)? Aren’t they mission-critical? And what about all the RAID and non-RAID NAS devices with embedded Linux and FOSS software (e.g. Samba) being used by corporations and small businesses? And what about all those Apache servers used by large and small corporations running Web shops? Not to mention all the companies using Amazon’s EC2 (Linux-based) service to run software on virtual servers. The list goes on and on. The fact is that there is an element of risk whether you use open-source or closed-source software.

#13 Denis Mathew on 12.04.09 at 5:40 am

The people talking against are been paid by Closed Source Vendors (for eg. Microsoft bribing political leaders of many countries in the way of donating money to poor or medical aid etc. all these goes to politicians) I think the above Gentle man from GE who does not have any technical Knowledge speaking in such a manner. I had also worked for GE. Most of its avaiation apps runs on top of Linux.

#14 451 CAOS Theory » GE European CIO calls open source risky … | Linux Affinity on 12.04.09 at 7:19 am

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