Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Enterprise Panel at Linux Foundation

Jim Zemlin asked what the most exciting things are going on now in the Linux space.

Dan Frye took the first answer, focusing on Real Time Linux, working with the Defense industry and various Financial industries, where Linux has taken a clear lead over some of the competition, e.g. Solaris.

Christy Wyatt is focused on the mobility space, with over 3 million mobile users using Linux today.  For Motorola that create excitement and opportunity in the market space.

Chris DiBona is excited about Containers in Linux and resource containment in Linux.

Jim asked how the vendors work with the community and what the opportunities are to work with the community.

Chris talked about how open source usage is very integrated into their workload and how they avoid the redistribution clauses of open source simply because of their typical usage/business model.   Chris also suggested that he could trivially get Speak Up's for Greg KH to do testing based on the accessibility needs brought up in the previous session.

Christy pointed out that Motorola's interactions with the community are broad - 70,000 employees, 1/3rd of which are software developers at an 80 year old company, the culture change is a definite challenge.  However, mobile linux is becoming more defined and is making it easier for Motorola to engage with the communities.

Dan pointed out that IBM uses open source throughout the company, but the LTC's role is to be members of the community - not just "work with the community".  IBM's goal is to remain trusted, valued peers in the community, helping to make Linux better.

Jim asked:  why are you all here?

Of course, three of these are board members who were in for a board meeting the day before, and Chris pointed out that, well, it's here, in my building!  All tongue in cheek, of course.

Dan pointed out that this is where the industry comes together, handling legal, technical, business issues.

Christy pointed out that LF is the center for all things Linux.  She also reiterated that large companies don't want to work *with* the community, but want to learn to be *part of* the community.

I missed the next question, but Chris pointed out that there is more early release hardware available to the community, more interactions early with the community.  There are some people who are combatting the Linux community but the community is also strong enough that those attacks are often ignored.

Christy pointed out that there is no longer concern about whether Linux is a viable choice for the mobile space - with 6 million devices already shipped, that decision is clearly decided.

Dan pointed out that adoption by enterprise of Linux at the "edge" (infrastructure) portions of the business were trivial at most companies - they were less regulated, easier to enter.  Now Linux is being debated for various workloads closer to the center of the workload, multi-million deals in place with enterprise corporations.  There is more to go but Linux has penetrated into the center of the enterprise at this point.

Common Linux complaints today are about ease of use, level of integration, "Fit and Finish" - easy to use.  Uli ??? is a long time AIX/Linux/Mainframe user, how does Linux at IBM compete with IBM?  Dan's answer:  it doesn't.  The markets don't compete, AIX and Linux, for instance are distinct market segments for IBM, the solutions have different strengths.  Dan manages AIX, Linux, VM, VSE, etc. and the channel conflicts are practically non-existent.  Customer needs drive the type of solution that they want and their needs drive their choice of platform, operating system, etc.  Uli points out that internally, people are looking for ways to consider how to move from Unix to Linux and he expected some channel conflict.  Dan says that IBM rarely sees that from the customer - the customer weighs their needs and moves to the appropriate solution.

Uli points out that some of his people want things to work "just like they always did" as opposed to "just work".  Jim points out that IBM is one of the organizations that has long been involved with Linux and the potential for conflict and that there are many IBMers in the audience (/me ducks) who have been dealing Linux and IBM products for a very long time and can provide some insight and guidance for others.

Christy pointed out that Motorola's first product in 2001 was done in China as a way to enter that market.  Christy points out that there is a need to innovate at all layers of the stack to compete, and doing so with 3rd party products is very difficult; open source provides a mechanism for competing, especially in an industry where the software is becoming even more important than the shape and form factor of a hand help PDA/phone.

Eric Wickadella (sp?) from Business Week - is there anything about Linux and Motorola that competes well with the iPhone.  Christy points out that the iPhone capabilities can already been done on many platforms with the possible exception of iTunes (others have multimedia capabilities).  Motorola sort of welcomes the iPhone because it opens up the rich experience and shows where the industry is going.  However, Motorola is likely to drive its strengths based on voice and data plans, software capabilities, etc.  Christy clarified that Motorola doesn't intend to "dominate" the industry/stack - obviously like any company they will compete on strengths in that space.  Eric also asked about Safari - Christy thought it was useful, but it doesn't really cover 3D performance/gaming.  Messaging being the #1 capabiity and gaming be #2.

James Bottomley wants to collaborate:  what is the top 2 list of what the community could do for each of the vendors and the top 2 list of things where the vendor can contribute back to the community.

Chris wants to contribute back to the Pacific rim (Google helping the community, the community helping Google).  Also, he'd love to see the community create drivers for things like nVidia & ATI drivers.  The proprietary drivers are one of the significant thorns in their side.  [See the nouveau project, the vesa and, um, mesa? projects for work in this space --gerrit].

Christy points out that most mobile users don't realize that their phone is running Linux.  Consolidation and collaboration across the ecosystem to simplify and make more common the user experience on cell phones.  Motorola can offer back training of the mobile operaters about how Linux and open source works and is acceptable for use in that space.

Dan doesn't usually rely on the community to do things for us, but prefers to contribute directly and work with the community when we need something.  Request #1 would be:  when GPLv3 comes out, just "chill"!  A bit of laughter on that one.  ;)  Power management - that is where the community needs to do better.  Patience and persistence on the device driver front, helping to train and work with the stubborn, proprietary device owners.  Christy seconded the power management issue.  Chris wants to second the GPLv3 "chill" request.  Chris quoted Eban, roughly transcribed as:  "GPLv2 wasn't perfect until we started GPLv3 development."

Jim:  what do the panelists expect out of this meeting?  Dan:  continued collaboration, hopefully some specific work actions out of the meetings with a focus on making Linux better and building the industry.  This is important to the industry and we need to keep at it.

Christy:  reemphasized that the US/Europe locality comment from earlier in the day was important - most of their developers are actually in Asia.

Chris:  we take great benefit from Linux - when you leave here, have something in your mind to *do*, be it publishing, using, developing.

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