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Red Hat Software Businesses Cloud Open Source

Red Hat CEO Predicts Open Source Infrastructures With Proprietary Business Functionality (fortune.com) 53

An anonymous reader summarizes the highlights of Fortune's new interview with Red Hat CEO James Whitehurst: A recruiter told Whitehurst the culture at Red Hat was "a little bit like that Blues Brothers movie, when Dan Aykroyd says, 'We're on a mission from God.'" But Whitehurst says geeky passion "makes it a great place to be a part of," and even argues that the success of Microsoft in the 1990s can be attributed to its Microsoft Developer Network, which led developers into Microsoft's platform and infrastructure. "Developers now are heavily using open-source tools and technology and, bluntly, I think that's why Microsoft had to open source .NET and why they're embracing more open source in general. Because open source is where innovation is coming from and is what developers are consuming, it forces vendors to participate."

Looking towards the future, Whitehurst says "A rough line would be almost to say most infrastructure is going to be open source and most business functionality above it is going to be proprietary." And he also warns open source companies, "if you don't have the unique business model that allows you to add value on top of the free functionality, in the end you're going to fail... a lot of open source companies have come and gone because they've been more focused on the functionality versus how they add value around the functionality."

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Red Hat CEO Predicts Open Source Infrastructures With Proprietary Business Functionality

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  • that's why Microsoft had to open source .NET and why they're embracing more open source in general.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Yikes. Did the CEO of Red Hat really want to use that particular word?

  • "if you don't have the unique business model that allows you to extract money from users on top of the free functionality, in the end you're going to fail... a lot of open source companies have come and gone because they've been more focused on the functionality versus how extract money from users."

    Red Hat has managed this is by replacing things that worked with "better" versions that mostly worked, so you would pay for their support for when it breaks.

  • is it's free, so that's what the India tech workers get trained on. Training in India is cutthroat and cheap so they're not going to pay for software unless they have to. That's also why being an Oracle DB is one of the few things that's been a sorta safe haven for workers in the America, Canada & the UK. It's too expensive to train our replacements.

    There was an article on folks switching from Oracle DB to Mongo DB on /. the other day and I suspect that's what's really driving the change. Like I alw
  • Let it never be said again that there's no substantive difference between free software and open source—here you have an open source booster (Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst) pitching proprietary software as a good thing unto itself. Many years ago the Free Software Foundation told us about this when they wrote about the "Fear of Freedom [gnu.org]" and the section that highlights how open source enthusiasts and free software activists react radically differently to non-free software:

    The idea of open source is that allowing users to change and redistribute the software will make it more powerful and reliable. But this is not guaranteed. Developers of proprietary software are not necessarily incompetent. Sometimes they produce a program that is powerful and reliable, even though it does not respect the users' freedom. Free software activists and open source enthusiasts will react very differently to that.

    A pure open source enthusiast, one that is not at all influenced by the ideals of free software, will say, "I am surprised you were able to make the program work so well without using our development model, but you did. How can I get a copy?" This attitude will reward schemes that take away our freedom, leading to its loss.

    The free software activist will say, "Your program is very attractive, but I value my freedom more. So I reject your program. I will get my work done some other way, and support a project to develop a free replacement." If we value our freedom, we can act to maintain and defend it.

    Whitehurst mentioned "why Microsoft had to open source .NET". What freedoms does that really convey to .NET users? It's worth taking a look at Microsoft's Patent Promise for .NET Libraries and Runtime Components and understanding its limitations. This patent promise doesn't look out for your software freedom. As End Software Patents warned us [endsoftpatents.org] two years ago:

    [Y]ou're only protected if you're distributing the code "as part of either a .NET Runtime or as part of any application designed to run on a .NET Runtime". So if you add any of the code to another project, then you lose protection and MS reserves the right to use their patents against you.

    Secondly, the protection only applies to a "compliant implementation" of .NET. So if you want to remove some parts and make a streamlined framework for embedded devices, then your implementation won't be compliant and the protection doesn't apply to you.

    Microsoft's "patent promise" so-called "protection" looks very different from how the GPLv3 treats users. End Software Patents summarizes the GPLv3's language in section 11 [gnu.org]: "[c]ode distributed under the GNU GPLv3[] comes with a patent grant which basically says the contributors can't use their patents against the users for exercising the freedoms granted in the licence" whereas Microsoft's "protections disappear very quickly for those who wish to modify or re-use the code".

    • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

      here you have an open source booster (Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst) pitching proprietary software as a good thing unto itself.

      This does not have to mean what you imply it means. In-house business software is by its very nature proprietary. What Whitehouse is doing is essentially telling business that it is okay to build your own proprietary business software on top of FLOSS architecture, aka he's countering the usual 'if you use GPL software you must Open Source your internal software' FUD.

    • by olau ( 314197 )

      ... here you have an open source booster (Red Hat's CEO Jim Whitehurst) pitching proprietary software as a good thing unto itself.

      I think he's just commenting on the fact that while people are still deploying and using proprietary software, they're increasingly going to do it on open-source infrastructure.

      So while he's not pitching proprietary software as a bad thing, I think it's quite a stretch to claim the opposite, from this story.

    • Okay so there are two take-aways here.

      One is that anything that comes out of Redhat's mouthpiece is usually self-aggrandizing bullshit. That's not to say it's always wrong; just it's not well-developed. I can say any stupid thing based on first-observations and be right 0.1% of the time--that's approximately how economic political debates work (everything in economics violates common sense with an unlubricated broom handle). When Redhat is right, it's typically because their bullshit lined up with rea

  • Welcome to tools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Sunday November 20, 2016 @01:46PM (#53327253)

    The hammer is open source. So is the screw driver, nail gun, wrench, and plyers. Tools have always been open source. Tools have never been for the end-user. The end-user has needs and requirements, and isn't interested in building it themselves. That's where the expertise of having-done-it-before is valuable. That's why we pay people to do things that they've been doing for others for decades. Of course I can learn to do it myself. I can learn to do anything that millions of men have learned to do before me. But I'm not interested in sewing my own pants.

    I'm not even interested in repairing the stitching in one inch of my pants.

    And yet, the needle and thread, sewing machines, and wood-working tools are all open source.

    Do I build my own couch? I could. It's really easy to cut wood, screw it together, cover it with foam, cover it with cloth. It's really easy to follow a pattern and a design and a template. Still, no thanks, not interested.

    I pay for someone else to build my couch because I'd rather spend my time working in my chosen profession than building a couch.

    Open source doesn't change anything to the end-user. My clients who sell white tube socks aren't going to build their own web-site. Sure they could, but they aren't interested. They also won't be their own security guard (also open source), paint their own offices (brushes are open source), or even ship their own desks (again, open source).

    Every tool, and every obvious technique is open source. Who cares. You pay someone else to use those tools for you.

    One day, 3D printers will become ubiquitous. And still, it won't matter. I'll want a widget this big and this shape to do this -- and I'll pay someone to design it. Whether they cut it out of wood, or mold it out of plastic, or hit print, is totally meaningless to me. I don't care what tools they use. I want my widget. And no, I don't want someone else's widget. Their widget won't fit my business model.

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