Where is the outrage as mainstream vendors acquire open source software firms

Summary:I am glad that some of my fellow ZDnet bloggers have caught up with this issue of Oracle buying up the open source movement. George Ou points to my Feb 16 post and references Dana Blankenhorn's Feb 17 and Feb 21 post.

I am glad that some of my fellow ZDnet bloggers have caught up with this issue of Oracle buying up the open source movement. George Ou points to my Feb 16 post and references Dana Blankenhorn's Feb 17 and Feb 21 post.

George makes a good point that:"it doesn't seem to getting the kind of outrage that I expected."

There is a great comment left by one of the our wonderfully anonymous but absolutely clued in readers, Sxooter which lays things out quite well, the box of proprietary technology Larry Ellison has drawn around one his most troublesome comeptitors, MySQL.

[BTW, the reason MySQL did not take Larry's offer is that the company recently received financing from SAP and Intel and those companies have a self interest in maintaing an open source movement.]

Most of the comments on this issue continue to say that it is not possible to buy the open source movement. Yes, technically, this is true because development communities can fork off and continue on their merry way.

But this is a psychological battle and Mr Ellison is extremely good at shots across the bow, and "talking down" a competitor. In this case, actions speak louder than words.

Mr Ellison's strategy pours a bucket of cold water over the best efforts of the venture capital community to create more open source projects and companies that could be troublesome to Oracle. And one of those potential thorns in Oracle's side is the extremely well capitalized Ingres, a relational database company bought by investors from Computer Associates and staffed by a first tier management pack.

This is a company that in many ways, is typical of the VC investments being made in this sector. The goal is to recruit or acquire a developer community around an open sourced software product. Then sell services to enterprises below Oracle's costs.

The open source developer community does the development work and the company providing the enterprise services gets reveneus and maybe gets sold. (If you are Ingres, you don't attract a hot-shot management team unless you promise a lot of gold...)

What Mr Ellison has done is scuppered that strategy. The ideals of thousands of software developers will not be be satisfied by the prospect of the mainstream enterprise sector buying the open source companies.

Yes, the communities can fork off, and continue along but the complexities of open source licenses will soon put a stop to that. There are a Heinz 57 varieties of open source licenses mixed in with proprietary software.

No IT manager in their right mind is going to try and build with a forked-off IT infrastructure combined with a license jungle. Just pay one check to one guy: Larry, Bill or SAP.

Topics: Open Source

About

In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to make a living as a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley.Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leadi... Full Bio

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