Red Hat: Open source is driving innovation and the information economy -- but battle is not over

Red Hat: Open source is driving innovation and the information economy -- but battle is not over

Summary: Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said the standardization -- aka commoditization or componentization -- of technology though the open source model has catapulted the information age into an information economy -- but the battle against proprietary vendors is not over.


The information age is finally evolving into the information economy because of the standardization enabled by Linux and open source -- but it's still a battle, Red Hat's CEO said.

The computer was invented roughly 60 years ago but only now are we seeing dramatic innovations, particularly in the cloud, mobile, and big data sectors -- which are run largely next generation open source architectures, he said.

"One of the key reasons is we're finally seeing componentization happening," Jim Whitehurst told thousands gathered in Boston for the Linux leader's annual summit. "More innovation will happen first in open source and that's a radical change from even five years ago."

He's talking, of course, about the standardization, or the componentization, or the commoditization, if you will, of the underlying computing platform upon which innovation happens.

Big data was not driven by a vendor but by end users and the open source project Hadoop. Cloudera is one vendor innovating on top of that platform but it does not control Hadoop, the Red Hat CEO noted.

Whitehurst, a former airline exec, likened Linux and open source (the LAMP stack) to the nuts and bolts and other standardized pieces of machinery that led to the explosion of innovation in the industrial age -- such as the development of combustible engines and jet planes.

Linux and open source is driving the next generation information economy but the battle is not over. Proprietary vendors are still trying to control the code, the means of production, and that grip must be loosened to drive more substantial innovation.

"Open source has gone mainstream ... open source is the default choice of the next generation IT architecture," he said, adding that if proprietary companies were able to patent nuts and bolts or own the copyrights to a screwdriver, jet engines might never have existed.

"The decisions we make over the next few years [are critical] ... if we have a new architecture with an old business model it still does not get us there.

"This will be a battle," he claimed. "Openness, standardization, commoditization is not done and it's a battle we'll continue to fight over the next few years."

Red Hat this year surpassed the $1 billion marker. Open source has become the default choice for next generation IT architectures. Innovation in the cloud, mobile and big data markets is happening first (aside from Apple) in open source.

The battles will continue but I'd say the war is won.

Topics: Linux, Emerging Tech, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Exactly what Bill Gates said he was trying to prevent

    I'm glad he didn't succeed.
    John L. Ries
  • Advertisement?

    Red Hat unsurprisingly thinks open source is great. No evidence to support even the slightest glimmer of innovation, besides bad copies of proprietary software, but that doesn't stop Jim rewriting history and the present.
    • sure

      Let's pretend CERN with their Large Hadron Collider and a data flow of terabytes per second and most of the top supercomputers aren't running Linux due to being the only option with both the performance and flexibility they need to handle their data processing.

      Let's pretend Facebook aren't running Linux because of flexibility and control.

      Let's pretend Google aren't running Linux for flexibility and the ability to customize it.

      So when we pretend all that... How do you explain away that it's faster and cheaper and easier to just download some free code and modify it and run it in your testing enviroment and deploy, than to just negotiate the terms with a proprietary vendor?
      • Natanael_L

        Don't mind tonymcs@..., he's just another threatened windows user, expect more of them to chime in and post their usual FUD.
    • Nope

      So you are one of those who believes that only money can make innovations....

      You actually said that it isn't possible that millions of people who use company product, couldn't invent needed improvements to it or new uses for that product than the manufacturing company or other company who hires people to do so...

      Fact is, people are innovative, it doesn't matter do you pay to them or not. All people (even the stupid ones, especially the stupid ones!) get ideas and visions, question just is, can they actually share it or not. In closed source world, you are not allowed to improve and re-use other idea as it is only for the owner (who usually isn't the inventor). In open source world everyone can share and improve their used tools or what others use. They have at least possibility to give others information how to make things better and if not author is willing to do so, they can hire someone else to do it for them or start even selling that improvement to others. Open Source model is faster and more innovative than Closed Source model.

      Example, computers were at beginnin open source in universities, there happened the innovations for modern personal computers, but those who then started own companies (like Bill Gates), were so scared about competition that they wanted to lock markets down to protect their achievement as it would always be the only one and greatest one.
  • Open Source software developers are what?

    RedHat has pulled in a billion dollars marketing somethign they don;t even have to pay for. Thousands of software people have worked on parts of Linux and 99.9% of them only get the glory for their efforts.

    To rephrase this, the developers work for free, and the RedHat excituves make tons of money from their work. Not only RedHat, but companies like HP and IBM make billions of dollars supporting and fixing problems in corporations that signed up for 'free' open source Linux.

    So, why do developers open source their products? Is it a form of communisim, from those that can to those that need (I 'can' develop, and the businesses 'needs' products to sell!)