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Red Hat to Coax Code Contributions From Companies

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the awesome-alliteration dept.

Red Hat Software 205

Stony Stevenson writes "New Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has hit out at enterprises, bemoaning that billions of dollars are wasted each year because 95% of companies won't share code. Speaking at the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco, he said his company must take a larger role in urging enterprises to participate in open source projects and, in some cases, coax code contributions out of companies that have made in-house improvements. He now feels Red Hat should lead the way 'It should be part of Red Hat's job to define development in a new way, and get companies to work together' on shared projects, he said. The joint development projects would be designed to cover non-competitive parts of an industry, with individual companies still focused on their own competitive business applications."

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Cable code? (5, Funny)

robipilot (925650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870010)

My first read of the title was WHAT? Code for coaxial cable? Me no get it.

Re:Cable code? (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870418)

Yeah, well, I'm urging all companies to cat-5 their code, that's gotta be better then coaxing it.

Re:Cable code? (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871800)

you aren't alone. I was trying to figure out what happened with the regular A or B choice and interested if I've been doing it wrong for all these years. I know others [alanperry.org] have been too. (not my site).

Yes, but... (2, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870022)

While I agree with Jim's sentiments being an Open Source advocate and all, I think Red Hat has no right to attempt to coax or coerce companies into giving away code. If OSS is the future, then it will happen, with or without Jim's little tantrum.

It is ridiculous for a CEO to attempt to paint his company as some kind of inspired model upon which other companies should remodel themselves. Aside from being futile, attempting to turn the Old Establishment around does nothing but hurt the nascent organisations that will make up the New Establishment by casting doubt on their methods and making them look like they are non-viable without the support of the Old Establishment. I can see Ballamer right now, in a room full of beaureaucrats saying "See? OSS is all about getting handouts to survive." Furthermore, it is brining wolves in amongst the lambs.

If Jim wants to make a difference, he should fund new development from emerging pools, like Google with the GSoC (not that I'm a Google fan, but that's another story), or IBM with their paid employee time contributions, or EnterpriseDB with their backports to the PostgreSQL team or Sun with their (somewhat clumsy) contributions to the OSS community. There are plenty of companies already doing what he says, he should be happy for that and encourage those already willing rather than attempting to project an agenda onto those it does not suit.

Having a whine that companies in the Old Establishment should be putting free money into his playpen is a naieve, futile and potentially harmful thing for Jim to be doing. It'd be better all round if he put his money where his mouth is rather than asking others to put their money where his mouth is.

coax yes coerce no (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870166)

Perhaps a better word would be to encourage or evangelize. Coercion should have no place in business and the word coax can mean either to benignly encourage or to coerce.

Re:coax yes coerce no (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870208)

My point stands even if Jim had said "pretty please with a cherry on top" while wearing a pink hoola skirt.

Re:coax yes coerce no (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870496)

Yea but it is a lot better than when Stallman says pretty please with a cherr on top while wearing a pink Hoola skirt, and a Poodle dog sweater.

Now that your mind is fried, I am going to steal your code.

Re:coax yes coerce no (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870560)

You cannot steal what I am willing to give to you for free.

Re:coax yes coerce no (3, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871152)

You can't rape the willing.

Re:coax yes coerce no (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871694)

I'm willing to try /What?

Re:coax yes coerce no (2, Insightful)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870676)

"My point stands even if Jim had said "pretty please with a cherry on top" while wearing a pink hoola skirt."

I don't think it does when it comes to coaxing. I am not sure it does in any case.

If my approach to coaxing someone is to point out to them how they will benefit by doing what I suggest and then they decide to do it... You have a problem with that?

I am interested in Free Music as well as Free Software. When people are afraid to try it with their own music, I suggest they at least experiment. Release a single song that they think of as having good quality under a Free license. Promote it. See what happens. Unless they think there is a good chance they are going to be a one hit wonder, and there is a good chance that they will pick their only potential hit to put under a Free license,there is little risk in such an experiment.

Or I suggest that they start with someone else's Free and copyleft lyric or tune and build on that. This lowers their risk even more.

Baby steps if that is what it takes.

I think that the people to encourage are industry associations. Let them find a way to support Free Software to the benefit of their members.

all the best,

drew
http://packet-in.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page [packet-in.org]
Packet In - net band, libre music, sometimes gratis.

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870600)

Don't be silly. Old stablihment? new stablishment? bollocs!
It's all about getting people to understand Red Hat bussiness model. You know, you share what you do that's not your *core bussines*, so you're not alone building it but keep control of it. Red Hat is the convenient partner that will help you get that power harnessed.

Re:Yes, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870616)

Does anyone else notice that the older group here with the lower ID numbers, is starting to agree that open source is kind of losing it's way when it comes to stuff like this, and the the new crowd with the higher IDs seems to think that everything and everyone should give away their stuff for free? Kids these days, and their free mp3 mentalities.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

flymolo (28723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870772)

Why every company has some non competitive advantage producing code that could be : replaced with open source or opensourced?
Red Hat is saying open source is a tool you use not just by finding existing open source, but open source things to garner community improvement. I try to clean up and submit my extensions, just because the project then handles the API breakage. How many admins coded their own monitoring tool before the open source ones can around. How many are still using them because they have some feature the open source ones don't. Sharing should be encouraged, and there are advantages to it.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871098)

Well, what's an advantage? How does a company that pays Joe Blow to write something, then give all of that code to competitors who did not have to pay Joe Blow, possibly benefit? It makes no business sense, whatsoever, other than PR.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871240)

Well, what's an advantage? How does a company that pays Joe Blow to write something, then give all of that code to competitors who did not have to pay Joe Blow, possibly benefit? It makes no business sense, whatsoever, other than PR.

It makes complete business sense because there are likely to be 10 or 100 times as many developers outside your company as in it, who would be willing to contribute to improve the code. Alternatively you could join an existing project, contribute Joe Blow (your 1 internal developer) and gain 10x or 100x the development effort back because of the other developers and companies involved.

In other words, it magnifies your own contribution. This, by the way, is exactly Red Hat's business model: There are more packages just in Fedora than there are employees at Red Hat, and I'm including all the office staff, cleaners, HR, etc in that number. Believe me, each Red Hat developer employee has their contributions magnified 10s or 100s of times.

Rich.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871350)

That's physically impossible to be a positive financial move. One company pays for initial development. That money is gone and spent. They're not getting it back, ever, but every competitor will get that initial development for free. No matter how much community help is provided, that company that gives away code ALWAYS spends more than competitors who get their hands on the code, and it wipes out any competitive advantage that caused the company to pay to develop the software in the first place.

Software is built in companies to make money. *Every* piece of software in a company is created to either make or save money. Companies don't do any of it for fun. Why would they want to give away that work for free? They'll never recoup their initial expenses, and as such, they will ALWAYS be at a financial disadvantage of at least the cost of the development when they give away software. Depending on the competitive environment, it's possible that a company loses more money than that when giving away software because their competition may be able to leverage it even better than the initial developers could.

It's always a lose-lose situation for a company to open source their software.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871520)

Software is built in companies to make money.

Actually, in the company I work for, software is built to help our hardware sales (no, I don't work for Apple)... so I'm strongly pushing internally for more Open Source efforts (we have some, but I'd like to see more). And yes, I get paid to write code - which I would be more than happy to share with the world and let the world share back.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871552)

One company pays for initial development. That money is gone and spent. They're not getting it back, ever, but every competitor will get that initial development for free. No matter how much community help is provided, that company that gives away code ALWAYS spends more than competitors who get their hands on the code,

That's complete nonsense. A couple of obvious counterexamples:

Rob McCool wrote the original Apache webserver (it was called NCSA httpd at the time), and it was a very simple HTTP/0.9-only web server, barely configurable, hardly any features. Apache today is 100s of times larger and more featureful, has probably been ported to more server platforms than any other server software, runs more than half of the websites on the net, has a huge sphere of talent, books, tips, web pages, etc. around it. Rob McCool did not write all this himself (in fact I don't think he's even actively involved).

Example 2: Linus Torvalds releases Linux 0.1 on the web. It's pretty crappy, it can just about boot on a basic single processor i386-based machine from a floppy, and has drivers for just a few pieces of hardware. Today Linux is millions of lines of code, has drivers for everything you can imagine, runs on everything and is very efficient. Linus's original work has been magnified maybe 10^4 - 10^6 times.

You write some crappy software to manage payroll for your 10 employee company. It's barely more than a few scripts really. If you keep developing that software on your own, it may one day become a few slightly better documented scripts that can manage a 20 employee company. Released and with contributions from ten other developers, it could become a hugely powerful payroll suite that scales up and down, ported to everything, masses of features etc.

Rich.

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22871706)

But you can use and develop and add on to open source programs *without* giving anything back.

Re:Yes, but... (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870940)

I think Red Hat has no right to attempt to coax or coerce companies into giving away code.

This is a straw man argument. The article said "coax." The summary said "coax." You added "coerce" which is not something anyone had brought up. In principal it is no different from saying that Redhat has no right to attempt to coax companies into giving away code or molest children.

If OSS is the future, then it will happen, with or without Jim's little tantrum.

I strongly disagree. Microsoft spends a lot of money convincing purchasers that they are better off buying all Microsoft, proprietary solutions. At the same time, not a lot of people making purchasing decisions understand the OSS business model and how it can save them a lot of money. Providing a voice that explains and advocates this method is very useful.

It is ridiculous for a CEO to attempt to paint his company as some kind of inspired model upon which other companies should remodel themselves.

He's not "painting his company" as a model. He's advocating an alternative development method that differs significantly from classic economic models. Redhat has done well by being a contributor to that model. That is not ridiculous at all.

Aside from being futile, attempting to turn the Old Establishment around does nothing but hurt the nascent organisations that will make up the New Establishment by casting doubt on their methods and making them look like they are non-viable without the support of the Old Establishment.

Old Establishment, New Establishment?!? Redhat is simply talking to companies, whether new or old, and trying to sell them on a cheaper way to do business that also helps undermine software lock-in strategies. OSS is, quite simply a feature of software, that many do not appreciate the advantage of. It needs to be explained, like most other new features consumers are not used to using.

I can see Ballamer[sic] right now, in a room full of beaureaucrats[sic] saying "See? OSS is all about getting handouts to survive." Furthermore, it is brining[sic] wolves in amongst the lambs.

In such a meeting, Ballmer is a salesman, and most companies don't trust salesmen. Microsoft already tries to paint OSS as something that is risky and unusable to big business, but not too many people are believers, given that IBM argues the opposite.

If Jim wants to make a difference, he should fund new development from emerging pools...

There is a lot of software in use today which is used in various niche applications. Quite often such software is custom built for a company, and their competitors also use custom built software. This software is not really a point of competition between these companies, just something they need in order to do business. What Mr. Whitehurst is saying is that Redhat can be more proactive in going to these companies and getting them to open source this code and allow all the companies that need that niche application to share the development costs, rather than each of them paying to develop their own version. This leads to many advantages for the companies including: lower overall development costs, more competitive bidding on development, and standardization within the industry for interoperability. Further, getting some of this code open sourced gives Redhat (and other such companies) a way to undercut proprietary software developers when providing custom coding, support, and added services.

There are plenty of companies already doing what he says, he should be happy for that and encourage those already willing rather than attempting to project an agenda onto those it does not suit.

I think you're still missing the point. This is about evangelizing OSS as a way to cut costs for companies that currently don't understand or contribute to it. There is a huge, potential market for OSS development and a lot of closed code out there that is nothing but wasted effort and money. By showing companies how OSS will allow them to cut costs and the benefits of OSS as a feature the entire industry can become more efficient and Redhat gets more projects to bid on. You're assuming that because a company is not participating in OSS development, that such a model is unsuited to them. Further, you implicitly state Redhat is targeting markets where OSS is not suitable. There is no justification for such a claim.

Having a whine that companies in the Old Establishment should be putting free money into his playpen is a naieve, futile and potentially harmful thing for Jim to be doing.

Trying to paint OSS evangelism as trying to get "free money" is naive and shows a complete failure to understand how OSS development cuts costs for participants. Whitehurst is not asking for free money. He's saying that Redhat should be trying to get closed code that is not making money for companies, opened up so at least the development cost of that code can be lessened. He's not asking for free money, but advocating OSS as a useful feature for companies as it can cut future development and code maintenance costs (and incidentally make it easier for RedHat to bid on some of these projects).

Re:Yes, but... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871266)

There is a lot of software in use today which is used in various niche applications. Quite often such software is custom built for a company, and their competitors also use custom built software. This software is not really a point of competition between these companies, just something they need in order to do business. What Mr. Whitehurst is saying is that Redhat can be more proactive in going to these companies and getting them to open source this code and allow all the companies that need that niche application to share the development costs, rather than each of them paying to develop their own version. This leads to many advantages for the companies including: lower overall development costs, more competitive bidding on development, and standardization within the industry for interoperability.

Where's the advantage to the company that does the initial software development? It doesn't lower their development cost one cent, but it greatly lowers the development costs of their competition.

And I'm sorry, but every piece of software is a point of competition. If one company can save money by using something as simple as a better email client, that's a competitive advantage over other companies that don't use the better email client.

Neither you, nor anybody else in this thread has expressed a single, logical, positive financial reason why a company should open source software that they develop in house.

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22871430)

Where's the advantage to the company that does the initial software development? It doesn't lower their development cost one cent, but it greatly lowers the development costs of their competition.

And I'm sorry, but every piece of software is a point of competition. If one company can save money by using something as simple as a better email client, that's a competitive advantage over other companies that don't use the better email client.

Neither you, nor anybody else in this thread has expressed a single, logical, positive financial reason why a company should open source software that they develop in house.


I've already moderated in this thread, hence the anonymous post, but I see you posting this same question. The answer is that they will be benefiting by getting updates/patches from other sources/companies that use their newly open sourced code for one. On the other hand, they will maybe in turn use a better tool that a competitor has developed, instead of the one they developed in house. Being that this software is not a product that this company competes on, this strategy will greatly undercut their costs. Your argument would have had merit if you could prove that say 1 company is doing the development, while its competitors are the only ones reaping the benefits without contributing. But as you're putting it, your view is a fairly one -dimensional one. There are a lot of posts in this thread explaining the net effects of open source, read into them first and argue against it if you like after.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871032)

While I agree with Jim's sentiments being an Open Source advocate and all, I think Red Hat has no right to attempt to coax or coerce companies into giving away code.

Um, why not (with the coaxing)? Isn't the next step beyond simple, vague advocacy actually coordinating with other companies to try to show them how OSS might work better for them?

If OSS is the future, then it will happen, with or without Jim's little tantrum.

OSS isn't *the* future. It's merely a part of the future. Not everything will be open source because it's not logically/economically/etc sound.

It is ridiculous for a CEO to attempt to paint his company as some kind of inspired model upon which other companies should remodel themselves.

That's *not* what's being done. Red Hat is in the business of selling support for OSS. What's being sought is finding companies for which software isn't their business and convincing them to invest their existing code (and probably future code) since they're possibly the company with the least to risk and the most to gain from opening their software.

Aside from being futile, attempting to turn the Old Establishment around does nothing but hurt the nascent organisations that will make up the New Establishment by casting doubt on their methods and making them look like they are non-viable without the support of the Old Establishment.

I think we're already beyond that point. Look no further than Sun, Novell, and IBM, all of the "Old Establishment" who have "[turned around]" to fund various critical components that most every business needs (a cross-platform platform and a whole OS, an office suit for documents, and the core component of another OS, respectively). Do you consider OSS non-viable because of this? Do you think those already tinted to disliking OSS consider OSS non-viable because of this?

I can see Ballamer right now, in a room full of beaureaucrats saying "See? OSS is all about getting handouts to survive." Furthermore, it is brining wolves in amongst the lambs.

The wolves are among us, already. If OSS can't withstand a few wolves, then it's doomed entirely*.

If Jim wants to make a difference, he should fund new development from emerging pools, like Google with the GSoC (not that I'm a Google fan, but that's another story), or IBM with their paid employee time contributions, or EnterpriseDB with their backports to the PostgreSQL team or Sun with their (somewhat clumsy) contributions to the OSS community. There are plenty of companies already doing what he says, he should be happy for that and encourage those already willing rather than attempting to project an agenda onto those it does not suit.

Far as I'm aware, Red Hat was funding new development all the time. The point Jim was making is that companies like Delta Airlines have a larger budget for IT than Red Hat has in total. Yet, companies like Delta Airlines are very likely reinventing the wheel all the time. Further, (though this isn't Jim's point), when Delta Airlines decides to reuse its own code, it's create its own, unique proprietary library that makes it more costly to hire IT staff. The bigger picture, though, is that translates into a signficant amount of waste that OSS seems best fit, of the available options, to solve.

Having a whine that companies in the Old Establishment should be putting free money into his playpen is a naieve, futile and potentially harmful thing for Jim to be doing. It'd be better all round if he put his money where his mouth is rather than asking others to put their money where his mouth is.

Companies are already putting money into the problem. The point is, it'd make more sense to have something like "OSDL Airlines" with a budget close to the budget of one airline than to have n times the money spent by n airlines. Since the money is already being spent, the real issue is (a) convincing one airline to take a risk on OSS that might allow airlines to gain a competitive advantage; (b) convincing many airlines to work together in a more open way, still deaing with the risk of other airlines gaining an advantage; or (c) to being cynical and say it's futile from the start because it's pointless to even try, insteading ignoring the airlines and remain bottled up one's own world. Maybe the effort will turn out to be futile. But, when one has no hope of recreating the effort of companies many time's own side, negotiating with them to show how they can benefit themselves might go a long way.

*Just so you know, I think it can withstand many wolves. I don't think wolves are the problem.

Re:Yes, but... (4, Insightful)

gdek (202709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871276)

A comment this ignorant, and yet this highly rated, pretty much demands a rebuttal.

1. "I think Red Hat has no right to attempt to coax or coerce companies into giving away code. If OSS is the future, then it will happen, with or without Jim's little tantrum."

Guess what? There are *a lot* of companies coming to Red Hat, right now, *asking how to participate in open source projects.* So Jim is not talking pie-in-the-sky here; he's talking about capitalizing on momentum that already exists. There's pretty much zero coercion involved here.

2. "It is ridiculous for a CEO to attempt to paint his company as some kind of inspired model upon which other companies should remodel themselves."

So why is it, exactly, that Sun and Novell are trying to rebuild their business models, again? Help me out here.

3. "If Jim wants to make a difference, he should fund new development from emerging pools, like Google with the GSoC (not that I'm a Google fan, but that's another story), or IBM with their paid employee time contributions, or EnterpriseDB with their backports to the PostgreSQL team or Sun with their (somewhat clumsy) contributions to the OSS community. There are plenty of companies already doing what he says, he should be happy for that and encourage those already willing rather than attempting to project an agenda onto those it does not suit."

Considering that *every engineer at Red Hat is an open source software engineer*, either full-time or part-time, I'd say that Red Hat is funding plenty of open source development all around, thanks very much. Or maybe you don't think that any of this stuff [fedoraproject.org] counts.

4. "Having a whine that companies in the Old Establishment should be putting free money into his playpen is a naieve, futile and potentially harmful thing for Jim to be doing."

As it turns out, executives at big companies are smarter than you are. See, they understand the difference between "differentiating value" and "non-differentiating value". (Read some Bruce Perens [perens.com] if you don't get that idea.) Jim Whitehurst was the COO of a Very Large Company [delta.com] that had a larger annual IT budget than Red Hat's entire annual revenues. He saw firsthand how much money and manhours IT departments waste on software that doesn't actually add any value to the business. "Old Establishment" is looking desperately to make sure that those IT guys are building value, not wasting time on stuff that doesn't differentiate them from their competition. Understanding *and participating in* the open source model is one of the best possible ways to do exactly that. Which is why "Old Establishment" is coming to Red Hat and saying "help us".

The limiting factor is that Red Hat is not yet big enough to provide all of the services and guidance that these customers need. Jim is committing himself, publicly, to meeting that challenge. At Red Hat, we're all very proud of him for saying so.

/sarcasm mode = ON (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22871292)

Companies who write their own code internally are stealing business from professional software developers. Let's outlaw internal code development.

Companies whose IT departments repair/upgrade/modify their own computer hardware in-house are stealing business away from professional hardware repair shops. Let's outlaw internal IT hardware techs.

Companies who have internal marketing departments are stealing business away from outside professional marketing agencies. Let's outlaw internal marketing departments.

*Companies who have their own in-house attorneys and legal departments are stealing business away from professional law firms. Let's outlaw internal legal staff/depts.

And the list can go on, and on, and on.....

/sarcasm mode=OFF

(*) Actually this one might stand a chance of coming to fruition once the lawyers figure out that they can get even richer and gain more control by raping the snot out of big business by organizing amongst themselves to force all businesses to hire private law firms instead.

Re:Yes, but... (2, Insightful)

radagenais (1261374) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871506)

I think its fair for RH to position themselves as a leader in the industry and, at risk of getting flamed, I humbly submit that, overall, they have contributed positively to OSS.

But I think that Jim's aim might be a little off. He points to enterprise, but I think that there is a massive swath of small to medium sized solution providers who are hording their code when they build enhancements for customers. This is their little cachet, their angle on the (primarily local) market, their "solution". A number of times I've pointed out to consulting firms I've worked for/with that they weren't compliant with GPL because they weren't putting their code improvements back into the wild, and they looked at me blank-faced, "Isn't it free??" "Sorry, boss, that's the BSD license. This is GPL. You gotta share." A frequent example that comes immediately to mind from a couple years back is Asterisk solution providers.

As for enterprise, you need to show them value in the form of professional services. If they can get expertise and help, they will be open to play ball. This is an area that RH can show their strength as a services company. If Jim puts his money where his mouth is, it could work.

My own focus is on professional services and I perceive OSS as a great opportunity to 1) improve the quality (security, interoperability, all that) through sharing of knowledge, which is just good science; 2) improve the professional services opportunity for Slashdot types. Services should be the biggest piece of the pie, not hardware or licensing, and this will help elevate the profession as well.

As a post-script, I think that developers have a certain amount of professional responsibility to point out the licensing model for any code they seek to build into their solution. If this was discussed more often, it might enhance awareness, dissolving some of the misconceptions about OSS. People aren't going to decide to share their code in hind-sight. You want to get them involved from the start of their project. I think Jim gets this and he's got to speak to it now and form customer partnerships to get that rolling.

There is no doubt that this is also a business development tactic for RH, but I see nothing wrong with that.

Lead the way (0, Troll)

nakhla (68363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870030)

Red Hat still has proprietary, non-open source products of their own, such as the Certificate Server products they purchased from Netscape. Shouldn't those be open-sourced before they complain that other companies don't open-source their products?

Re:Lead the way (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870130)

Re:Lead the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870282)

They still have Satellite.

code could be encumbered to prevent them (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870238)

It could also be that the products they have acquired are encumbered in such a way that prevents them from releasing them as open-source. I think that was the position of ATI or nVidia for a while on the graphics drivers - they licensed technology from other places that wouldn't let them release the code.

Job loss (-1, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870060)

If companies start sharing code, there will be less code that needs to be written in-house, which means some people are going to be losing their jobs. I'm sure they'll be really thankful to Red Hat.

Re:Job loss (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870206)

If companies start sharing code, there will be less code that needs to be written in-house, which means some people are going to be losing their jobs. I'm sure they'll be really thankful to Red Hat.

I already moderated in this article, but I'm willing to lose the moderations just to reply to this.

Analogy: if universities start sharing research, there will be less research that needs to be done in-house.

Um, yeah. Unnecessary duplication of effort is wasteful. Yeah, they could lay off people, or you know, they could use the same number of coders and now accomplish more tasks.

Re:Job loss (2, Insightful)

idlehanz (1262698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870484)

Or if you're the person cutting the checks, you give yourself a bigger bonus and call it a day (optimistic cynic). Optimistically the company will create a new product and assign the idle workers to this task and generate more revenue. Singing of kumbaya and hugging to follow. Or, the company lays off the extra people UNTIL they create a new competitive product, then hire people to support the new product. Greater disruption, but hey, that's the marketplace. As a bonus we get more time on the X-Box while we wait for the market to correct.

Re:Job loss (2, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870668)

Analogy: if universities start sharing research, there will be less research that needs to be done in-house.

Your analogy is flawed, because universities do not consume the research that they produce, and they are (usually) not expected to make a profit.

Also, it says right in the summary that "billions of dollars" are wasted on duplication. One obvious way to save that waste is to fire programmers and freeload off of the code of others. I can't think of a good reason to believe that the distribution of the savings will be equitable.

Re:Job loss (1)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871144)

Since when have you known a company to pursue efficiencies and want to accomplish more tasks? In fact, I have found a direct correlation that the larger the company, the better it is at actually efficiently duplicating efforts as much as possible.

Poor Analogy (1)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871278)

Your analogy assumes that the existing open source code solves the problem and that universities all work on the same static issue - which is far from true.

I for one am glad that multiple universities work on the same problems/research projects in their own unique way Open source isn't an analogy of efficiency in the example you make because those efficiencies are already here - BOINC, Clustering, Linx et all and other types of programs being a showcase example.

Open Source and LGPL libraries are where its at - give you a foundation to save time/money on the mundane and repeatable tasks but allow - such as in your example - universities to do the research as they see fit.

On the inverse side, universities are a poor example of the efficiencies because they often already share the mathematics, theory and processes of their research and the software is merely a framework/testcase to prove it - not necessarily it its best/most reliable/proven way. SOrt of like a test case that works but isn't pretty. Would sharing that make other universities spend less time? not sure since other universities may prove their research in other ways - cheaper/more efficient/more reliable or simply prove things wrong.

Its the competition & differences that make university research strong and forward thinking - not necessarily the foundations that are common between them (which again, for the most part already exist)

False (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870312)

Technically, if they share code, they can do more with their business, thus drawing in more consumers and hire more people to do more work.

no Job loss (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870336)

If companies start sharing code, there will be less code that needs to be written in-house, which means some people are going to be losing their jobs.

That is "fixed pie" thinking. Underneath your statement is an assumption: that there's only a fixed amount of work to be done, that the amount of work "pie" available is fixed and unchanging. That simply isn't true.

The real purpose of a job is to generate wealth. Janitors create the wealth of a cleaner environment. CEOs create the wealth of a smoothly running organization. Factory works create the wealth of manufactured goods. And so on...

If wealth gets generated more efficiently, everybody benefits, because there's more total wealth to be distributed. An organization that "eliminates" a few positions is then wealthier, which then makes it more likely to increase its product base, thereby creating more positions. While there are cyclical deviations and occasional abuses, (generally covered by existing laws) it's largely a self-regulating system.

Don't be afraid of change. Be afraid of stagnance.

Re:no Job loss (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870508)

Well said. I think I will use this line of reasoning with friend who feel the same way about certain issues.

Re:no Job loss (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870576)

Nice infomercial, but could you please define "wealth" for us all ?

I'm of the opinion that this so-called "pie" is indeed fixed on a global scale. The concept of "wealth" has been distorted over the last few decades to actually be "concentration of wealth".

It is true that proper code sharing will eliminate a lot of junior roles, but these positions were redundant from the start. Conversely, it is very likely to create many new higher-skilled jobs, where developers make use of the improved functionality of this shared code in evolutionary ways.

Let's face it: if we didn't have to reinvent the wheel all the time, we could spend that time building great things UPON the wheels. That is a whole lot more valuable than having 99 different implementations of X.

Re:no Job loss (1)

eudaemon (320983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870590)


Real world example -- I manage a financial application that manages the data and day-to-day functions
of many now retired legacy systems. It is almost wholly unique to my company because it was
not written to be reusable. Even for the sake of argument if the programmers did
make it reusable, why would my employer do so? It would just mean giving a leg up to
competitors who still use loosely integrated systems, rather than maintaining a single system of record.

I'm all for open source, personally. But there's a strong demarcation between tools and the work that
comes from the tools. If there was an open source chisel design and I improved it, you could have my
improvements. But you can't have my sculptures. Just my opinion, of course.

Re:no Job loss (1)

s20451 (410424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870716)

An organization that "eliminates" a few positions is then wealthier, which then makes it more likely to increase its product base, thereby creating more positions.

I generally agree, but it's not obvious that the new positions will be in programming. In fact it's kind of unlikely, if the company is getting its code for free from somewhere else.

Re:no Job loss (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871022)

Except in some cases there is a limited amount of work. There really is only one "pie".

Re:no Job loss (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871146)

You're right. What does this have to do with a company giving away code it paid money to have developed? How does that generate wealth for them? It generates wealth for their competitors, but not them. So why do it?

Re:Job loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870392)

And mechanized crop production put 95% of our farmers out of work. Guess they're all starving now. Idiot.

Re:Job loss (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870488)

If companies start sharing code, there will be less code that needs to be written in-house, which means some people are going to be losing their jobs.

Or we'll find new problems to solve instead of reinventing the wheel independently in a thousand silos. Following your logic the fact that MS offers companies the ability to just buy productivity software instead of having to write their own kills off software jobs. And in a way that's true but do you really want to be writing a word processor for Citibank, get fired then go write a word processor for Macy's and so on? If you want to write software for a job then you want to do it for a company where software is the main product anyway.

People need to stop thinking of jobs as the focal point of their lives. You can save a million jobs if you decide to stop the clock and work for the sake of work but what's the point?

Re:Job loss (1)

sa666_666 (924613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871186)

People need to stop thinking of jobs as the focal point of their lives.
Hey, I'm as much a 'work to live' guy as the next person, but this advice is a little absurd. Tell you what, send me a million dollars (or two) and I'll gladly concentrate on other things in life. In fact, I would love to do so. But until then, don't suggest that a job and money doesn't mean anything. I for one would love to jump off the treadmill and live life on my own terms, but it's not going to happen without a job (or a huge stroke of luck).

Re:Job loss (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871998)

People need to stop thinking of jobs as the focal point of their lives.

vs

a job and money doesn't mean anything.


I'm in the same boat as you, most of us need a steady income. I'm saying that there's more to life than having a job and we should think of people as more than just what their job is. Make-work jobs may be a very simple way for politicians to keep people busy, fed and satisfied but they certainly doesn't do anything to improve the condition of humanity.

Re:Job loss (2, Interesting)

Sebastian Reichelt (1241416) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871190)

Or we'll find new problems to solve instead of reinventing the wheel independently in a thousand silos.

If only software development was like that! If a software solution for a given problem exists (closed or open source), that still does not mean the problem is solved once and for all. The implementation is hardly ever isolated from the rest of the "product". Even in the open-source world, we still have these large, monolithic programs, and nobody has a chance of reusing just a certain aspect of them. In fact, in some cases it's even worse than with commercial software: Just think of all the applications that exist twice: Once in a KDE version and once in GNOME version.

Until all code is truly reusable and free of everything non-problem-related, programmers will reinvent the wheel over and over again.

It's worse than that. (4, Insightful)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870076)

I did a consulting gig a while back, whose contract specifically said I was not to include open source code in my work for them.

There was no mention of licenses; open source licenses include the MIT and BSD licenses, and many similar licenses that permit keeping the source to derivative works closed. And in fact, Microsoft itself uses a lot of BSD code in Windows, without sharing any of its source.

I was very unhappy about signing such a contract, but I needed the work.

I never really asked why they wouldn't even allow source under the MIT or BSD licenses. I expect that it was a lack of education. If that's the case, I expect their attitude is not uncommon, and sorely needs to be corrected.

For what it's worth, my current employer [amcc.com] (I'm no longer consulting) releases the source code to its Linux and BSD drivers as open source, with their source code being provided on our installation CDs.

Re:It's worse than that. (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870196)

You were a contractor. If they go and say "Open source is allowed, but only if it uses license XYZ, or compatible licenses, or this, or that...", they start risking that you misunderstand them and stuff code they don't want in your work. It is simply easier to say "no open source". Less chance of confusion.

Thats most likely all there was to it. Give people an inch, they take a foot...and they didn't want to risk it.

I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22871616)

I think the original comment (lack of education) is most likely correct. I think you misunderstimate the stupidity of modern IT management. There is a class of people who read all of the MS FUD in trade journals and take it as gospel. To these people, open source means copyright infringment, patent risk, etc.

But if you want a semi-legitimate reason to be afraid of open source, I can think of one. What happens if the consultant finds an open source product that can be slightly modified to become the system he is supposed to be building? If the project is budgeted for 1000 hours and the goal is to build a blog that works just like Slashdot, what if he books 990 hours surfing for pr0n, downloads Slashcode and strolls in the door with an invoice? This is an extreme case, but I can think of many projects that can be broken down into pieces that can be handled by open source.

I once had a large project to build a highly specialized XML editor to produce files that could serve as lab reports and also be parsed into a relational database. I tried very hard to find open source products that would expedite our development, but I found nothing I wanted to use. As I planned, budgeted, and launched the project, I was worried that someone would find an open source project that I missed, which would have proved that I wasted money on something that could have been downloaded for free.

I made quite a career for myself by exploiting open source. It's kind of like potato chips -- once you get started it's hard to stop.

Re:It's worse than that. (1)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870990)

This is what drives me nuts about the whole FOSS thing. The fact is, companies already share code, it just happens to be owned by vendors with packages. Its not like any company goes out an invents a GL system, they share for a price (ie. buy) packaged GL apps. Sooner or later, you get thousands of companies selling a GL system (read ERP) from a vendor like SAP or Oracle. The people that say you need to share this and share that or somehow you are economically or technically inferiority-minded, generally stand to gain by the sharing.

Yes, but you're appealing against (4, Insightful)

drunkenoafoffofb3ta (1262668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870084)

how businesses usually think. Share their stuff with others? Give other companies an advantage that WE paid for? NEVER! So yes, it's a huge waste. But you'll have a hell of a time convincing them to change. Um, imho.

Re:Yes, but you're appealing against (1)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870562)

I agree. To an extent there is already a vast amount of "base code" out there and the rest is mostly the code that makes the business work - by that i mean applications/systems/environments that are proprietary because they directly support or impact something that gives that business an edge. You know, fulfillment systems for retailers, customized CRM/ERP systems for large companies and scheduling/time/material/billing/MRP systems for others. We could all share a million ways to create a PO but it would be stupid to share what distinguishes your enterprise from your competition.

Re:Yes, but you're appealing against (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870580)

The problem with open-sourcing code that your business relies on is that a company/competitor with bigger pockets can take it and run with it. And that sucks.

By giving away useful code, you are making it a trivial thing for a competitor to enter into your market. Whereas before they might have thought, "You know, this market is too small for us to spend money developing the software we need", now they get the software for FREE. They can enter into your market easily. And if they are a big enough player, they can sink you rather quickly.

Re:Yes, but you're appealing against (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871142)

I once wrote an application for a small manufacturing client that managed their process of handling returned goods. There wasn't anything especially nifty about this; it was simply a bunch of PHP scripts backed up by a PG database. That's the kind of application that makes sense to share if it can be generalized outside the specific business involved. There must be thousands of similar, non-critical custom applications out in the world. These are the types of applications that aren't likely to come from the usual OSS coders since the apps address rather boring problems. Unfortunately, most important business processes that could be improved by IT are fundamentally "boring" in that sense.

Re:Yes, but you're appealing against (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871940)

By giving away useful code, you are making it a trivial thing for a competitor to enter into your market.

That seems simplistic. It's difficult for me to imagine that several Wal-Mart competitors would appear instantly if Wal-Mart released their logistics software under a free license.

Re:Yes, but you're appealing against (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871092)

Share their stuff with others? Give other companies an advantage that WE paid for? NEVER!

And certainly for key business-driving software that attitude is right. I'm sure FedEx have a large amount of routing software which they wrote themselves and it may be their most important asset. However, FedEx's expenses software or stationary supplies reordering software ain't so critical to the business, and it's exactly this sort of thing which (if a company wrote themselves) then the company should be encouraged to collaborate on.

Rich.

Another way to look at it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22871344)

You make your little changes to an open source library. Ten revisions of that library go by. With each revision you need to update and retest the code. At some point the effort and cost you expend will be greater than the competitive advantage you think you might have. The truth is if you've thought of it, 20 other companies have done the same. At least if you roll your changes into open source, then your project will benefit from people correcting bugs in your contribution and adding features to it.

Can't attack the license. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22870122)

Nevermind the trollish title, this guy's disposition is asinine. Enterprises should be asked to share more code in the interest of the free software movement and adhere to the spirit and not only the letter (instead of forcing people to GPL3 their stuff to avoid being "cheated"), ok.

But if the license allows to keep the software in house and do whatever they want with it, then they are rightfully entitled to do that. A company with its business model "rooted" in free software ought to respect it.

Share code, not missiles! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870126)

Chant of the '60s revised for the 21st century.

Inspired by the /. main page.

No Thank You (2, Funny)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870136)

After seeing the absolute filth that is spewed out of most corporations' in-house "development" teams, I'd be very wary of this.

Re:No Thank You (1)

drunkenoafoffofb3ta (1262668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870278)

Ha, fair point. In the utopian vision of companies sharing intellectual property for all this would rapidly = much better code. It'll never happen.

Re:No Thank You (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870304)

Open source, in house closed source...in the end, its all developers coding, and as a general rule, programmers spit out crap code. There's a few top of the line open source projects that have wonderful code, there's a lot of even big name projects that have hellish code (I was told many times that they improved it a LOT by now, but a few years back, PostgreSQL's code base was really, REALLY awful, for example).

The only difference is that most crappy open source projects are sleeping on FreshMeat or something, and no one hear about them. You only hear about the few good ones.

The other side of the picture is that a lot (most?) programmers have had , at one time or another, to work with bad code, and since they were paid for it and had to pay for food somehow. Didn't have much choice, so had to endure it, thus giving the impression that in house code is always much worse. I've had to deal with a bunch of awful codebase... I've also had to deal with in house code bases that virtually no open source project (that I know of anyway) have been able to dream of matching...

Re:No Thank You (2, Insightful)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870358)

I agree. The difference that I see is code written within a corp not as a part of the OSS movement is developed with deployment in mind, not with the attitude that others are going to also use this code. This leads to poor documentation (esp in code commenting) and generally sloppy coding. Now, OSS may not be better, but I would hazard a guess to say that it is. Writing code that you know other coders are going to use in other applications/ projects as a matter of pride would lead to better organization, commenting, etc. Of course I may be completely wrong . . .

Re:No Thank You (2, Interesting)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870608)

I think this generally has to do with the function of the code. For example, most corporate "in-house" solutions are pressed for time and resources. Many of them are poorly documented as it is often treated as a luxury to have good documentation. Because of the nature of OSS, it typically has better documentation. Most people designing OSS hope to pass if off and allow others to build onto what they've done.

I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (0, Flamebait)

melted (227442) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870200)

It may be news to a CEO, but programmers who write code (and their children) want to eat and have roofs over their heads, too.

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870354)

Doesn't make it any less of a waste. So should companies pay engineers to implement a tool to drive and remove nails?

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870416)

Looking at it your way you're going to be out of work in anyway in the 5 or 10 years it takes it finish writing all the code. Once it's all written the entire programming community is going to be out of a job and on the street.

I suppose there may just be some, slight, hope if once the main code is all done the companies were to find other areas they could make improvements in and perhaps these improvements could be coded somehow ?

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870732)

Is that you, Charles Duell [quoteworld.org] ?

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870778)

If they're only doing make work for a salary, then yes, it's wasted. I mean, every business in America could employ hundreds of programmers, if we just made it so you could only use the software created by your own people.

Of course, then they'd all go out of business, and there would be no work for any programmers.

It's a much better idea to put more and more useful code out there. Companies will pick it up, and hire someone to expand and maintain it to their needs. My ability to deploy and extend OSS turned out to be valuable enough to my company that they tasked me with doing more of it, and hired another guy to take over some of my other job responsibilities.

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (-1, Flamebait)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870818)

Mod up parent!

This is not flamebait; its an honest statement of fact. This is the fallacy of FOSS - there is no such thing as a free lunch. Free is free only when something of no value is shared or given away. Free is not free when you are a CIO paying someone for software development (custom developed or packaged). In between, (in America anyway), there is a thing called a market.

It's ridiculous for this RedHat clown to demand other companies give his company something to fill out the Linux app portfolio.

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871466)

He's not demanding anything of the sort. He's suggesting that by pooling resources companies can get a better bargain from their development budget. That's an economically sound idea.

Re:I wouldn't say they're "wasted" (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871296)

This is the broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org] in action. You might as well suggest that companies hire men to dig ditches all day and fill them back up, just so they can get a paycheck. Rewriting the same code all the time is just as pointless.

If these companies didn't need to waste (yes waste) that money on that code, they could spend that money in other ways. Maybe it wouldn't get spent on code, and there would be less of a market for programmers. But there would be a greater demand for other services, so the economy as a whole would be ahead.

Recession-proffing with FOSS (2, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871478)

It may be news to a CEO, but programmers who write code (and their children) want to eat and have roofs over their heads, too.

That's the broken window falsehood [bastiat.org] in a nutshell, with a false dichotomy thrown in on the side.

Money and staff spent, in this case, re-inventing the wheel, is money and staff not spent on the core business activities. So,even if it's learning from others mistakes, going FOSS saves effort and that in turn boosts your core business activities (assuming reinvestment and not skimming by the execs). Software is only a tool, an enabler, for those core activities. In case you missed the last 25 years of computing, it's not an XOR choice between using the open source development model and making a profit. In fact, it's been show again and again that it's not only profitable, but makes your company more recession-proof [salon.com] . We've been through a few now and have seen the benefits.

Patents/copyright stopping code sharing (1)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870254)

My company will never dream of sharing their code while software copyright and patent infringement lawsuits exist.

Its easier to keep it in-house then to hire a lawyer to make sure everything is going to be OK.

Competitive/Co-operative Aspects (1)

thegdorf (1222548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870424)

The joint development projects would be designed to cover non-competitive parts of an industry, with individual companies still focused on their own competitive business applications.
I think this shows a disturbing lack of understanding for a CEO of a fairly significant corporation. While it's true that businesses "compete" with other firms through the quality/features/etc. of their products, that is hardly the only area where an edge can be gained. Having more efficient processes, for example, is also key, and it is this area where companies gain value from their improvements to OSS. Thus these apparently "non-competitive" parts are anything but.

Transifex (2, Informative)

Nushio (951488) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870566)

Disclaimer: I am currently a Fedora Translator

Fedora currently uses Transifex, which makes all translations go Upstream, thus sharing what we've translated, with other Software Projects.

I'd sooner share their herpes (5, Insightful)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870574)

... than the code produced by most teams.

Re-use is not just about shoving code on a server and letting people copy it. You also need design, documentation, comments, testing, and ideally some level of support.
A lot of in-house code comes with none of these and as a result is worthless.

Re:I'd sooner share their herpes (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871516)

Shouldn't they be doing this anyway in order to be producing maintainable code? Shouldn't the engineers be commenting in it for whoever has to see/work on the code? Shouldn't the hardware's specifications already be documented? Otherwise you're right, the result is worthless.

Coax Docs not Code (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870652)

Am I permitted a chuckle?

Seriously though, he should try to get enterprises to contribute usable user documentation, not code. If he succeeded, in the fullness of time, using FOSS products wouldn't be a never-ending easter egg hunt.

Re:Coax Docs not Code (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870966)

You seem to be think more along the terms of API, protocols, hardware etc. He's commenting more a long the lines of redundant code in individual business apps. Consider, for example, how many timesheet apps must be out there.

Competitive Advantage (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870674)

If I'm the CEO of a big-ass Insurance Company, Bank, Airline or Widget Manufacturer and I just invested a bajillion hours of developer time into creating software that gives me an advantage over my competition, why would it be in my best interest to give my code away?

Re:Competitive Advantage (2, Insightful)

Nushio (951488) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870704)

If you're the CEO of a big-ass Insurance Company, Bank, Airline or Widget Manufacturer and you just invested a bajillion hours of developer time into modifying (Free?) Open Source Software, it would be greatly appreciated if you contributed back to said projects.

Re:Competitive Advantage (1)

ajdecon (233641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870862)

Appreciated, sure. But CEO-dude isn't looking to be nice, he's looking for an advantage. And especially he doesn't want to help competitors. Where's the concrete incentive?

Re:Competitive Advantage (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870912)

Maybe, but if it's used in-house the license doesn't require contributing back, and if there's no business case for it, why bother? All it will do is help my competitors.

If there's a business case - like increasing goodwill in a certain project will have an effect on the bottom line - then go for it. Otherwise, forget it.

It's not a one way process (3, Interesting)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871298)

If you contribute back to a F/OSS project, such project grows and attracts new contributors, who will in turn give you stuff for free.

Win/win.

Re:Competitive Advantage (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871096)

Becuse it's highly unlikely that that code is bug free, and by letting the rest of the community review or use your code, you will

1.) Find out about those bugs
2.) Receive fixes for free !
3.) Impress your clients
4.) Go to heaven with good karma.

So, now what's stopping you ?

Re:Competitive Advantage (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871136)

If I'm the CEO of a big-ass Insurance Company, Bank, Airline or Widget Manufacturer and I just invested a bajillion hours of developer time into creating software that gives me an advantage over my competition, why would it be in my best interest to give my code away?

Because it's not this software that he's talking about. Obviously software which gives you a competitive advantage is your lifeblood and you should not give it away. It's all the other stuff that people should collaborate on, stuff like your toilet-roll reordering spreadsheets and custom desktop remote management scripts and (to a lesser extent) business apps like payroll and inventory.

Rich.

Re:Competitive Advantage (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871230)

If I'm the CEO of a big-ass Insurance Company, Bank, Airline or Widget Manufacturer and I just invested a bajillion hours of developer time into creating software that gives me an advantage over my competition, why would it be in my best interest to give my code away?

It probably is not in your best interest. I don't think that is the most common situation or the situation Mr. Whitehurst was describing. In many cases there are numerous companies all doing business in the same industry and all of which need some type of application. For an example, lets say you're an airline. Every four years or so you hire a contract software firm to work on your luggage tracking software. Periodically new regulations or technologies require you to contract to have this software modified. RFID becomes useful, so you add support for it and tagging luggage and using handheld scanners. The government requires you to track luggage checked in by a passenger, who then misses a connecting flight (to detect potential bombs). The FAA requires you to interact with their system via a SOAP interface. The hardware your code runs on are EOL'd and you need it updated to run on a new chipset. You get the idea.

Your airline and every other airline is paying to develop and maintain proprietary software. Usually, you hire the same contract company every time because they are the only ones who understand the code base well enough, and you pay a premium because hiring a lower bidder is a risk. You aren't really gaining an advantage because your software is better. Every company's software does basically the same thing and you all pay similar amounts.

What Redhat can do is go to some of these airlines and say, "hey would you like a cheaper way to do this?" Take your luggage tracking software and open source it. We'll take your code and put it on sourceforge and get a few other airlines to contribute code as well. Then, whenever there is a new requirement you can take competitive bids from a number of different vendors to update it. Also, if you acquire any other airlines, they'll probably be using the same code, making the merger easier. Also, since it will be in use by several different companies, the FAA is likely to take it into account specifically when creating their new server application making that less expensive. Also, some of those other companies will be hiring developers to add new features they want, and you'll get that feature without paying a cent. When you need to interoperate with other airlines to hand off luggage, well it will be a lot easier. Finally, since the project is based upon your code, you have first adopter advantage wit the whole industry following your lead, something investors like to hear.

If you spent a lot of money and it is giving you a competitive advantage, well you probably should not open source it. I think, however, you're overestimating how often that is the case. Most of the time that proprietary application you keep paying to have updated is not a competitive advantage. Everyone buys a word processor and spreadsheet for use by office workers. Does your choice really give you a competitive advantage over others? It is just a recurring cost you and all other companies have to pay, one that could be a lot cheaper if you went the OSS route.

Re:Competitive Advantage (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871322)

Does your software really give you a competitive advantage, or is it just another bit of infrastructure? If it gives you a real competitive advantage, how much is that worth to you? Is it worth more than getting another company to take half of the development and maintenance costs of the software? If you've already developed the software and it is perfect and never going to need modification then your point makes sense. On the other hand, it might not. What happens if your software could cut your supplier's costs by 10%? If you release the code, and it causes them to cut their prices by 5%, then how does that affect your bottom line? Or if it lowers your customers' costs, causing them to lower their prices, increase their volume and increase their demand on your product? If you are starting a new piece of in-house development then you should consider looking at other companies with similar demands and seeing if they can share some of the development costs. If Red Hat can provide a brokerage service putting companies with similar needs in touch then it would be a valuable service. Even if it adds 10% to the overall cost of developing the software, it would be a good investment if it means that you only pay 20% of the final cost, rather than all of it.

Best analogy ever!!! (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22870798)

"New Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has hit out at enterprises, bemoaning that billions of dollars are wasted each year because 95% of companies won't share code.
I bemoan that libraries of congress are wasted by storing millions of books that thousands of stores sell and i bemoan that thousand cars equivalent worth of code is wasted and i bemoan that i am wasting every joke out there which is used by every slashdotters.

Bullshit (2, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871024)

The joint development projects would be designed to cover non-competitive parts of an industry, with individual companies still focused on their own competitive business applications.

No such thing as non-competitive parts of an industry. If two companies say, make toilet paper, and one of them has a custom program that let's say, saves energy by turning off unused lights in their buildings. That company saves money on their power bill. That is still a competitive advantage over the other company, even though it has nothing to do with the industry. Why would the company that developed that give that to a competitor, and allow that competitor to improve their bottom line? Every piece of doing business is a competitive advantage. There are no insignificant parts of any business.

Re:Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871280)

Not everyone is a competitor. There may be some companies that are your allies. If you have energy saving software and your distributor uses it, this makes your paper cheaper. It also makes other company paper cheaper as well, however, more costumers now can afford it (or afford it more).

Also, if over all economy improves, the chances are your paper business will improve. Your supplyers can deliver more cheaply, your clients can pay more.

And to finish, if you release reasonably good and useful code, other altruistic companies may contribute back, thus reducing time and effort.

It already happens in a way (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871070)

Big Corporation goes to Big ERP vendor and says "we want your product to provide functionality X". Big ERP vendor goes, sure, no problem we'll do it for $X and if you want support sign over the code and give us an extra $Y to support it. Big Corporation goes "gosh, that's not too great a deal. But no one at Big Corporation knows how to do this so we *are* at least buying their obvious expertise". The expertise being obvious because it is expensive. They also ignore the fact (or are clueless to it) that in a series of cubes somewhere there are several applications programmers which, over a period of years have already created code for the existing business application to handle the business rules and could probably port it quite nicely, thank you.

So Big ERP Vendor develops and installs the application with functionality X (after the sales people scoot away with their bonuses). Big Corporation lays off said applications programmers losing years of very expensively obtained expertise. Since the programmers of Big ERP vendor have no clue of the business rules (even ignoring the language and/or cultural differences offshoring may create), it takes a number of iterations, much lost productivity and large amounts of $$$$$$$$ to finally get it right. Sort of. It looks slicker but often acts clunkier.

So Big ERP Vendor goes to Another Big Corporation and says "we have this module with functionality X which is based on best practices and with minor modifications in your business processes would work great for you."

So Big ERP Vendor sells the module that Big Corporation paid for to other companies, including possible competitors to Big Corporation. And loses any business process advantages it may have had.

So thank God they never went open source!

It's dead Jim.... (1)

haeger (85819) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871234)

Just that.

.haeger

He could start by cleaning up his own house (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22871504)

Maximum RPM [amazon.com] was last updated in 1997 and the suite has since seen some rather sizeable changes. The reason I was given back in 2001 or so regarding the absence of updates was higher priorities elsewhere. He should look in-house before throwing stones at others.
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