Pete’s Perspective – Open Source

Pete Massiello, President, iTech Solutions

This article was originally written and posted within  2020 February COMMON Connect. The original article can be found here.

Open Source?

Yeah, I put a question mark at the end.  Most times when people think of Open Source, they are thinking Python, PHP, Java, Swift, Ruby, C# and JavaScript to name a few.  Most people don’t associate Open Source with systems management or operating systems.  In fact, most people don’t even think that open source is ready for enterprise corporate programming.  When open source started taking off, about 30 years ago, I could see the potential, but I was concerned if people would be willing to move it into production.  Would it remain in the labs, colleges, and with the programming underworld, or would it ever be able to see the light of day?  Many years have passed, and I think we are finally seeing over the past 10 years more and more companies embracing open source.  As they should.

Many companies have realized the potential of open source, and it is certainly here to stay.  So, it’s time to get on the train if you have been on the sidelines just watching. Right now, I think that the biggest challenge is to convince people about the value of open source, and the advantages that it has. One of the biggest points of confusion with open source is that everyone equates open source with free.  Not entirely true.  Yes, if you want to use open source it is free, but when you use it in your corporate environment, you can’t build your corporate ERP system on it without support. I guess you actually can, but I certainly wouldn’t. You need support, you can’t run your business on something without support.  I think open sources’ biggest challenge over the next 5 years is going to be to convince people that they have to pay for open source support.

IBM purchased Red Hat for 34 Billion dollars last year.  Red Hat is all about open source, and IBM would not have bet their future of the company on that huge acquisition if they didn’t think so as well.  They spent 34 billion dollars on Red Hat because their technology, operating system, and cloud. But most of all, they believe in the future revenue streams of Red Hat. Specifically, IBM is bringing its software portfolio to Red Hat’s OpenShift, Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based container platform that is essentially available on any cloud that allows its customers to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Add the vast open source developer community that allows IBM to be tightly integrated with the future, and it was a good forward-thinking strategy. Red Hat has become the model for other companies to follow: they established that you can make money from open source (These words almost sound sacrilegious together, but they are not). They don’t make money from selling open source as such, their model is selling subscription and support. Two people who were instrumental in IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat were Arvind Krishna, Sr. VP IBM Hybrid Cloud, who will be the next IBM CEO in April when Ginni retires, and Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat’s President and CEO, who in April will become President of IBM.  This will probably be Ginni Rometty (current IBM Chairman, President, and CEO) biggest legacy.  It was a great move, perhaps a company saving decision, albeit a little expensive in my opinion.

Now many people get confused with Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Linux was not designed with some specific purpose in mind, but as a general purpose operating system.  Some people will say it was a “raise the middle finger” salute at Microsoft and their expensive licensing.  In any case, Linux now serves as a reliable open-source and free operating system for desktops, servers, mobile phones, lots of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and embedded devices. The Linux kernel is the minimal operating system. Linux is a kernel, a component used to build operating systems. RHEL, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, and SUSE are specific operating systems that are built on top of the Linux kernel. There are hundreds of Linux operating systems, sometimes you might hear them referred to as distros.

Of course, everyone has their favorite, and people will tell you why the one they are aligned with is better than any of the others.  I guess it is no different than why we all think IBM i is the best operating system in the world.  No, wait a minute IBM i is the best operating system in the world.  We can’t download IBM i yet for free, and there are a lot of open source solutions that are available for free download.  BUT WAIT.  Many of those open source solutions that you can download can run on IBM i.  You need to know how RPMs work for the system administrator. Oh, you don’t know that?  Haven’t you been to a recent COMMON conference and heard Steve Pitcher, Kevin Adler, Jesse Gorzinski, or Mark Irish speak on everything Open Source as it pertains to IBM i?  You need to attend the next COMMON conference, which is COMMON’s PowerUp2020 event in Tampa, FL August 30th – September 3rd.   I look forward to seeing you there, and learning myself more about Open Source.

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