Stormy Peters, Hewlett-Packard Co.s open-source program manager, said open source "gives more choice to users." Suns Phipps, however, disagrees with that because "I dont know many users who can break down source code." Phipps later added, after a pitch for Suns Java Desktop System, which offers a simplified, Linux-based open source desktop: "The vast majority of users cant program; they cant even spell programming. The question is how to have a broad and diverse end-user community who are not techies. We see open source moving out of the geek space and into the human space.""Open source is a meritocracy," said Chris Stone, vice chairman of Novell Inc. "When there is a problem its like a bear on honey or bees on honey." To which Zittrain quickly quipped: "No, its like the Amish on a barn." The panelists pointed to some of the areas of innovation and opportunity in the open-source world. Asheem Chandna, a venture partner with Greylock, a Waltham, Mass.-based venture capital firm that was the original investor in Red Hat, said he sees merging opportunities in the database world, the security arena, and the area of building a licensing business around open source. Chandna cited open-source database maker MySQL, open-source security systems supplier Sourcefire Inc. and software intellectual property risk management solutions provider Black Duck Software Inc. Meanwhile, Tiemann said with Red Hats acquisition of storage infrastructure provider Sistina Software Inc. last month, "we see storage as an area ripe for commoditization." HPs Peters said open source has indeed tended to commoditize certain aspects of the software industry. "Theres a commodity line, and over time the commodity line is moving up. Linux is commoditizing the operating system level, and that line is moving up." IBMs Frye added, "We have a very large, profitable proprietary [software] business" while the company also is investing heavily in open source. "We are comfortable playing in both worlds, and we dont see them competing. Proprietary software is not going away." Peters noted that although "proprietary software will be around for a long time," the open-source movement has seen to it that certain areas are well-covered by open-source technology. "If we need a Web server, we dont need to build one; we can use Apache." Next page: Open sources a wonderful model.
Matusow said the concept of a development model for sharing code has been around for quite a while. Yet, "from Microsofts perspective, success comes from community," he said. "Look at the Win32 APIsthats a successful community of developers."