By eweek  |  Posted 2006-07-11 Print this article Print

Is there a particular example of this that you can tout? Im particularly proud of Kyril Faenov, the general manager for high-performance computing. We were nowhere in the space two years ago, when he started in that role. Now, he and that team know all of the ISVs, theyve had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of customer engagements. The way they have touched and worked into that industry is just phenomenal, and it is exactly the way we should do it.

They even worked with the open-source community, right?
Were working with the open-source guys, which is great. There are a lot of ways that we are going to be working with open source. Open source is a way of building software, and, in its most basic sense, there is nothing incompatible between the concept of open-source and commercial software. But the [GNU] GPL [General Public License] has an inherent incompatibility that, to my knowledge, is impossible to overcome. A commercial organization must build intellectual property, and GPL by its very nature does not allow the intellectual property to be built. That makes those two incompatible. But BSD [Berkeley Software Distribution]-style licenses and commercial [software] are quite compatible with each other.

But we are open to ways of working with the open-source community broadly, and, even in the GPL space, we are trying to find ways in which we can build bridges to GPL. But the bridge has to be carefully constructed.

Can you give me some examples of the ways you are looking to work with that community? One is making sure that as we do interoperability things that we can work with the GPL on that. In other words, so that people can build solutions on GPL that interoperate with us … we are really trying to understand how we can drive interoperability forward in a way that bridges the gap between the commercial and GPL worlds.

How is this outreach being received by the community? They are skeptical but intrigued. I think that what people are starting to discover is that people who like GPL code are not evil, and people who build commercial software are also not evil; we just have different approaches to software.

Vendors using open-source software must also be hearing from their customers that they want more interoperability with other platforms, including commercial ones, right? Sure. This is just the more mature view of the way the world is evolving, and we want to make sure that, for those customers choosing solutions based on Linux or other open-source-based products, we have ways of interoperating and working effectively with that. Now, those are competitors, and so my goal is to do a better job than they do at solving customer needs and having customers choose my solutions. But, if they choose not to, we should be interoperating and working well with them. Youll be seeing more of this in the future.

But doing this with the open-source community must be more challenging for Microsoft, not so? Its more challenging in the sense that there are business model incompatibilities there, and that makes it a little weird. But, as we spend time learning about what it means, again we are finding ways to build bridges.

Did the recent acquisition of JBoss by Red Hat change the competitive landscape for you at all? No, not really. Red Hat does a good job of pulling together a broad set of open-source technologies and providing it in system distributions to customers. That is probably a good thing. That is the nature of open source—it all seems to aggregate.

What have you learned from the open-source model? Well, [its] development methodology is very interesting. [Its] community-based development [structure] we really got and internalized and are now making a standard part of our process. Open source was way ahead of us on that, and we have learned from [it]. The whole thing where Microsoft is an open, blog environment is an example of us trying to really embrace these existing trends in the community and be very open and have a broad community we work with across every aspect of our products. That is the model of the future, and so we are embracing that.

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