This eWEEK: May 19, 2003
Gibson: The SCO intellectual property frenzy may yet do more good than harm.The information technology industry needs innovation around standards. It does not need an intellectual property terrorist threatening to sue everyone in sight. Most people, perhaps even SCO and its president and CEO, Darl McBride, might agree with that assertion. So why is SCO trying to stick up everyone whos ever used a computer running Linux? Is he an embedded Microsoftian or something? McBride certainly doesnt fear the opprobrium that erupted in his direction from members of the Linux community last week, who rightly fear short-term harm. But in the long term, the SCO intellectual property frenzy could helpthanks to the principle of inoculation. If Linux is clean of any protected Unix code, it will be immune to similar threats in the future. Almost everyone would concede that IBM is a great company. And yet, Big Blue is really a collection of companiesmost notably, hardware, software and services businesses. Each, by any reasonable yardstick, would measure up as great.
But lets go back a decade. Ten years ago, IBM could do no rightespecially in software. Its goods were overpriced and underperforming, but the company, in its arrogance, believed its customers would want them anyway. They didnt. Chastened by its near-death experience, IBM scrapped the IBM-only approach that had hamstrung it for so long; embraced standards; and set about constructing, both internally and through acquisitions, a software industry powerhouse. Darryl Taft talked with the key builders of this new edifice, most notably Steve Mills, in his exploration of how the IBM Software Group came to achieve greatness. It shows how size, deftly managed, can be, as former CEO Lou Gerstner asserted, the companys greatest asset.