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Red Hat Software Businesses Software

Red Hat to Coax Code Contributions From Companies 205

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the awesome-alliteration dept.
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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Red Hat to Coax Code Contributions From Companies

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  • Cable code? (Score:5, Funny)

    by robipilot (925650) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:52AM (#22870010) Homepage
    My first read of the title was WHAT? Code for coaxial cable? Me no get it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      Yeah, well, I'm urging all companies to cat-5 their code, that's gotta be better then coaxing it.
    • by Machtyn (759119)
      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).
      • Hardware companies care only about selling a product and keeping the customer satisfied for the first 30 days after which they can't return the said hardware. They don't care if the patches to Linux don't get upstream because as long as the hardware works fine with the version of Linux that they hacked up and pre-loaded, they're customers will be temporarily satisfied.

        And when it comes time to upgrade the Linux OS in a year or two, the new version won't work, so the customers will be forced to buy more "u
  • Yes, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrNaz (730548) *
    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 t
    • coax yes coerce no (Score:2, Informative)

      by davidwr (791652)
      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.
      • by MrNaz (730548) *
        My point stands even if Jim had said "pretty please with a cherry on top" while wearing a pink hoola skirt.
        • by peragrin (659227)
          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by zotz (3951)
          "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
          • by caluml (551744)
            I'm going to mod you down whenever I get mod points, for putting annoying sigs in the body of your comment. If you want to have a sig, use the sig provided.
    • by flymolo (28723)
      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 so
      • by DogDude (805747)
        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.
        • 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

          • by DogDude (805747)
            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.

            Softw
            • 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.

            • 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

            • by Rakishi (759894)

              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.

              Oh for the love of christ, this is all about software that everyone already has developed thus everyone already paid a cost for it. The only real question now is future costs of this software for the companies involved compared to what they get back as a result. New competitors are a different issue but that's a somewhat separate point.

              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.

              No it doesn't. Your competitors are now forced to pay if they use your software:
              -Migration costs
              -Training costs
              -Continual costs due to lack of the same in-depth knowledge
              -C

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

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @01:04PM (#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

      • by DogDude (805747)
        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 appl
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Where's the advantage to the company that does the initial software development?

          I think I already covered that, but here it goes again. Money spent is spent. You can't un-spend it an no one who went business school should fall prey to the fallacy of throwing good money after bad. In general, all companies have already invested in some niche software. The company open sourcing code may or may not have the best software out there, but making it OSS provides them, the users, with a new feature.

          When you open source some project you benefit in numerous ways. First, you get are likely to

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          Where's the advantage to the company that does the initial software development? It doesn't lower their development cost one cent,

          Sure it does, others will submit patches and updates which allows you to have fewer developers on the project. If they don't then any in-house fixes they have will cause them patch hell whenever a new version comes out.

          but it greatly lowers the development costs of their competition.

          Why? The competitors already spent the same, more or less, development cost for whatever solution they currently use. Switching to the new open source one will cause them to have to spend effort changing systems, retraining staff and learning the new product. Now new competitors won't have

      • 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.

        While I can see why this might benefit Red Hat it is not as clear to me how it benefits the companies serving that niche. It is always better, from the standpoint of any given company, to compete from the position of a franchise rather than as a price taker in a purely competitive market. The provider of franchise product or service has greater pricing power than a price-taker in a purely competitive industry (although less than a monopoly) and pricing power translates into extra economic profits for the c

        • by mengel (13619)
          But what do you want to franchise upon? If you make every little thing different and proprietary, your developmenet costs are huge. If you write your own compiler in your own programming language to do software for your own custom hardware that needs power from your own special generators... There is a reason most companies that did this have gone by the wayside (except, somehow, for Sun -- and even they have started using PCI bus hardware peripherals, and started offering Intel based systems as well as
        • While I can see why this might benefit Red Hat it is not as clear to me how it benefits the companies serving that niche. It is always better, from the standpoint of any given company, to compete from the position of a franchise rather than as a price taker in a purely competitive market.

          It benefits the companies because they have lower costs. They can charge less than companies that don't share software development costs with others. They gain from other reduced costs.

          The provider of franchise product or service has greater pricing power than a price-taker in a purely competitive industry (although less than a monopoly) and pricing power translates into extra economic profits for the controller of the franchise.

          Most companies compete with others in hundreds of ways unrelated to their core competency. Open sourcing software in those areas are what is of benefit.

          Lowering costs is a worthwhile goal, but it must also be weighed against the possibility of helping one's competitors, particularly in a niche industry where franchises are more common, and lowering the barrier of entry to new competitors.

          Contributing to an OS, doesn't significantly lower the barrier to entry in a market that builds upon OS's. For tertiary, niche markets where competition already exists

      • >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.

        See, this sentence sums up why I wonder why businesses would want to jump on the OSS bandwagon.

        It's great if you're a startup, as you can leverage the work of other people. But if I'm already the Goliath that everyone is chasing, it is in my interest to keep barriers to entry into my market as high as possible - why would I want to make it e
    • Re:Yes, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gdek (202709) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @01:30PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by radagenais (1261374)
      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
    • by ajs (35943)

      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.

      They, like any company, has every right to try to change the industry. I'd even go so far as to say that it's every company's duty to attempt to change their industry in ways that are consistent with their business model. If your company isn't doing that, then it's just treading water, and will eventually be replaced.

      Having a whine that companies in the Old Establishment should be putting free money into his playpen

      Ah, but that's just the mistake that most folks outside of open source make, and to hear it on Slashdot is just sad... Most large companies spend buckets of money every year writing millions

  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:55AM (#22870076) Homepage Journal
    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.

    • by Shados (741919)
      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 was very unhappy about signing such a contract, but I needed the work.

      Why should you have been unhappy? Where they offering a flat rate or fee for the contract where the difference between the cost of the solution and what they paid was your salary? If that is the case then maybe I can see why limiting the types of software could be a negative factor for you, but you could always negotiate a higher price to accommodate that demand (many other businesses charge more for "upgrades" and "premium services"). Otherwise, give the customer what he wants, it is his money after all.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I never really asked why they wouldn't even allow source under the MIT or BSD licenses.
      Because they didn't understand it and didn't have the legal resources necessary to understand it. This stuff honestly scares a lot of companies, and these licenses are absolutely not easily understood by the average software developer, manager, or executive. It's easier to just say "no open source" to contractors than to spend a few months passing stuff through the legal department.
  • by drunkenoafoffofb3ta (1262668) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:56AM (#22870084) Journal
    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.
    • by cybrthng (22291)
      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
    • by realmolo (574068)
      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, the
      • by yuna49 (905461)
        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
    • 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 encour

    • Businesses should look at it as splitting the cost and effort of stuff that they'll all each be using anyway. In an extreme case, businesses could even eliminate Microsoft as the middleman between them and their computers if they got together and funded work on operating system software that they would each be using anyway, and in the end they would be more free to customize it for their own needs.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      how businesses usually think. Share their stuff with others? Give other companies an advantage that WE paid for? NEVER!

      It's been more than 10 years since I've worked on anything that could be usable by people outside of the companies I've worked for. Sharing stuff just isn't practical in that environment. Ie, device drivers for unique devices, or code that has to work with a unique API, or stuff that makes little sense outside the company or application (whereas sharing academic papers makes more sense).

      Sharing code makes more sense when things are built on top of a common or standard architecture and API, can be spl

  • by Hyppy (74366)
    After seeing the absolute filth that is spewed out of most corporations' in-house "development" teams, I'd be very wary of this.
    • by Shados (741919)
      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 somethi
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AshtangiMan (684031)
      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
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kellyb9 (954229)
      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.
  • Transifex (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nushio (951488)
    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.
  • by giafly (926567) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @12:32PM (#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.
    • by HalAtWork (926717)
      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.
  • 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.

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      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.
  • by jamesl (106902) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @12:39PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nushio (951488)
      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.
      • by ajdecon (233641)
        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?
      • by abigor (540274)
        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.
      • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gmaiCOLAl.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @01:33PM (#22871298) Journal
        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.
    • 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

    • 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 modifi

    • 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 suppl
  • Bullshit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @01:11PM (#22871024) Homepage
    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tranzistors (1180307)
      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 a
    • While I can agree that there aren't many non-competitive parts of an industry, consider this scenario:

      Company A has a program to turn off 50% of the unused lights in their building. Company B has a program to turn off 50% of the unused lights in their building. But Program A and Program B are not the same, nor do they turn off the same lights. Combining those programs (eg, open sourcing w/ gpl) might yield both a 75% savings in electricity.

      Now the CFO has a difficult decision to make. Is it worth the ext
  • 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
  • Just that.

    .haeger

  • 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.
  • We've made lots of money selling other people's free work and we would like to make more money buy selling other stuff we didn't pay for.

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