Can Yahoo use open source to close Google gap?

Open source is always friend to the No. 2 player in a market and always the enemy of the top dog.

Open source is always friend to the No. 2 player in a market and always the enemy of the top dog.

That appears to be the big lesson after connecting a few dots on various items popping up around the Web.

First David Carr at Baseline notes that Yahoo is a major sponsor of Hadoop, a big open source project designed to replicate Google's techniques for storing and processing information.

Carr documents how Yahoo has become increasingly cozy with Hadoop and has even swapped a few employees. Carr reports:

The basic technique Hadoop uses is part of what has allowed Google to manage the massive data processing challenges associated with indexing the Web—and do it economically. Google has not released source code for its Google File System or the associated distributed computing environment, known as MapReduce. But what Google has done is publish academic papers on the computer science behind both—presumably knowing full well that competitors and open source programmers would be likely to create their own implementations.

Google hasn't exactly handed over its technology to Hadoop and appears to be taking a hands off approach. And why would it open source the very techniques that give Google an edge?

From there, Dana Blankenhorn asks a bigger question: Is Google becoming an enemy to open source? Dana tracks some heated exchanges between Microsoft and Google on the topic and press folks appear to be siding with Microsoft.

On the surface, Google's relationship with open source is more nuanced. Earlier this month Google gave a big boost to the Open Invention Network, which could get an enterprise boost on the move.

But the open source community wants the kimono opened on everything. What's lost is the big dollars at stake for any top dog in a market.

In the end, Google will pick its shots when it comes to open source. In other words, Google will toggle between open source friend and foe based on its own interests.