Can VMWare stay closed while buying open?

SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin expects VMWare to make more applications in the open source space, calling it "squarely in the open source camp." But is it in that camp as camper, or is it acting as a predator?

Much of the agonizing over Oracle's purchase of Sun (and mySQL) lies in the fact that Oracle is a closed-source, proprietary company.

This fact has split the open source industry from the open source community. The industry loves this trend, especially that part funded by venture capital. The community is troubled. They smell a bait-and-switch.

But there's another, related story that either proves the need for concern or offers a third way for a marriage of commercial and open source products. VMware.

Under former Microsoftie Paul Maritz (above), VMWare has been "moving aggressively up the stack," in SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin's words, by buying open source companies. First it bought SpringSource, a well-managed Java middleware outfit. Now it has bought Zimbra, the collaboration software company previously owned by Yahoo.

But this does not make VMWare an open source company. As its open source policy states, VMWare does release some components of its software as open source, but it doesn't support them. Instead it sells commercial alternatives.

Before flaming Maritz and VMWare, understand that it has a cloud-based services strategy. It's pushing its own virtualization software with open source applications as a complete cloud stack. It can sell this as a product, as software, or it can run its own cloud.

While this strategy makes legitimate use of open source components, it's not an open source strategy. Augustin expects VMWare to make more applications in the open source space, calling it "squarely in the open source camp."

But is it in that camp as camper, or is it acting as a predator? You tell me.