Roundtable Discussion: Why Can't We All Just Get Along (Liveblog)
April 8, 2009 Leave a comment
Jim Zemlin – Linux Foundation
Ian Murdock – Sun
Sam Ramji – Microsoft
* Lessons learned after being at MSFT for a couple years as the “Open Source” guy
– Sam: When he came in from BEA, things working together “just made sense” to him. Day 1 he would have explained what he was doing a bit better to the legal team. Engineers tend to change much quicker than lawyers, whose job is to mitigate risk.
* Similar question to Ian:
– Was a bit of a culture shock going to Sun. He was used to working at 50+ person companies that he had started. Thinks he may have been a bit naive when first going into Sun. “Large companies have more inertia than you might think”.
* It’s clear that Microsoft sees the computing landscape changing. What can the Open Source crowds do to help the agents of change within the company?
– Sam: We’re a large company and some parts are changing faster than others. Identifying that there is a place to go with the things you think are not going well is important. He’d like to be seen as the unelected representative within Microsoft for us. He might not have an immediate answer, but he wants to better understand the problems.
* Why does he (Sam) care what the Open Source and Linux communities think?
Sam the person: “I think computing just needs to get better”
Sam the MSFT representative: We’re at a point in our history that we need to understand what the next engine of growth is going to be.
* What is Sun going to do with MySQL?
– Ian: We’ve fully committed to the Open Source model. MySQL represents a huge opportunity. The kinds of software you see being used in Web 2.0 and cloud computing represent a new dynamic. Sun’s global sales force plus products like MySQL are where Sun will grow.
* Where is Microsoft going next?
– Sam: We want to build software that is in demand on every platform. He sees 4 general directions for this: server, client, mobile and cloud.
* Sam: “When you hear the same thing from enough customers, you listen…even if you don’t necessarily agree”. Gave the example of Microsoft supporting PHP, despite having put a lot of resources toward and really liking ASP.NET.
* We’re clearly disappointed about Software Patents in this community. The recent FAT lawsuit included.
– Sam: We agree there are issues, but don’t think the whole system should just be thrown out. Says Microsoft suffers more than anyone else in the current system. Spends over $100M a year defending against patent suits. Did not address FAT lawsuit specifically.
Ian: It’s a bit of an arms race and large companies feel the need to amass patents for defensive reasons. No one wants to be the first to drop all their patents.
* Ian: With cloud computing, are we losing many of the advantages of Open Source?
– Jim: I don’t think the operating system discussion is going to be decided for a while.
– Sam: Now the “cloud” is just elastic computing. The next cloud with be more like Google App Engine or Microsoft Azure. The idioms and structures are different… it’s a whole different environment.
(Note: I don’t think they fully understood the question Ian was asking, but it’s a really important question…and one I’ll be thinking about quite a bit moving forward. It’s not always just about access to the code. It’s about the code being usable outside the original context, portability and other related issues)
* Question from Jeremy Allison: Asserting patent rights is fundamentally against the Open Source ethos. FAT lawsuit aside, Jeremy would simply like clarity around what interoperability IS possible and what interoperability (from a legal perspective) IS NOT possible.
– Sam: We learned a lot from the work MSFT did with Samba on licensing protocols, but it won’t scale to 1,000 of protocols. “We can and must do more about predictability on where we’re going”. Places where we currently have a licensing program are probably good places for Open Source to stay away from, at least in the near future. “We need to improve here”. The SMB/CIFS agreement went through 35 iterations in 6 weeks. We’re willing to learn.
The final consensus: where we can be more clear with each other, let’s do it. Linux, Microsoft and Sun are all going to be around for the long haul. We’re all going to be here, let’s make the best of it. Let’s move beyond ideology and be pragmatic.
That’s the end of the Summit for today. See you at the Exploratorium for the evening reception.