Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Why can't we All Just Get Along? Microsoft, Sun, Linux reps discuss potential for interoperability

Roundtable Discussion: Why Can't We All Just Get Along (View Summary)
Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, Linux Foundation
Ian Murdock, Vice President of Developer and Community, Sun Microsystems
Sam Ramji, Sr. Director, Platform Strategy, Microsoft Corporation


Microsoft:  What would you have done differently?  Sam Ramji: I would have on Day #1 built a relationship with the Legal team.  Engineers adapt quickly but Lawyers tend to take a little longer to be educated on the trends and directions and to understand the ramifications.  The exact quote might have been:  "Engineers iterate and get to the right solution, Lawyers mitigate risk..."

Sun:  Open Solaris work from Ian - he entered a little naively due to the inherent inertia when working with a large company.  While building up a consensus finally happened, it took much longer than expected. Once the inertia is moving in the right direction, it is much easier to get things done.

Jim to Sam:  It is clear that MS sees the computing landscape changing. Is there anything that you'd like to see from this crowd, beyond just going away and leaving us to have the dominant market share?

Sam:  View Sam as the "unelected rep within Microsoft" to help work to advocate for changes in behavior within Microsoft.  Have built up Linux on top of Hyper-V as well as Windows on top of Xen within MS. Hopefully the Linux community can provide positive reinforcement for the things done well and not just kick the MS for the things done wrong.

Jim:  Why does MS care about the open source community?  There is often an assumption that MS has a nefarious purpose behind their actions and the open source community is trying to figure it out.

Sam:  Two answer:  First, he'd like to see computing just get better. Sam sees that greater efficiency in computing drives greater productivity within the economy.

$60 billion in revenue - what is the next engine for growth?  The better MS works with other products the greater the growth potential for MS products.  A lack of interoperability will likely be an inhibitor to revenue growth.

Jim to Ian (via Twitter):  Who is the largest contributor to open source in the world:  Ian:  Sun!  The entire company is built around open source, literally.  Working with other companies to ensure that their products interoperate.  Jim:  What is Sun going to do with mySQL?   In Cloud computing or Web 2.0 companies, whatever you want to call them, open source is a major underlying technology which is a place where mySQL fits in nicely.

One example of agreement between Linux, Sun and MS is on accessibility standards for people with disabilities.  Standardization in this space is a place where we could all work together.

Ian:  Sun did not foresee the rise of Linux and did not get the chance to incorporate it into their strategy until too late.  (Contrast this with Oracle's insight as viewed in an earlier posting with hindsight).

Jim:  is there any possibility of ZFS and dtrace under a GPLv2 license?  Ian (after some hesitation) "There is a possibility, yes."

Unfortunately I didn't catch all of the debate in this session because the dynamic was very interesting.  The fact that this panel exists is a good sign that there may be some collaboration among some more extreme competitors.  Of course, this is a major aspect of this part of the industry in which many competitors seek to find common ground for collaboration, advancing their common interests.

All in all, kudos to Ian, Sam and Jim for setting this up and running with it.

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