What Does Consolidation Mean for Open Source?

Lora Bentley

In a Monday morning post on Nokia's plan to acquire Trolltech, News.com blogger Matt Asay wonders, "Who will be left to change the world if the old world devours the new world?"


I can understand the question. It seems every day there's news of yet another open source/proprietary pairing. Besides Nokia and Trolltech, Sun just bought MySQL, and it wasn't all that long ago that Citrix snapped up XenSource and Yahoo swallowed Zimbra. There may not be many open source companies left when the current consolidation trend runs its course, but I don't think that means they won't change the world. They'll just do it from within the larger organizations.


In fact, another recent post from Asay gives us a hint of how that could look. On Sunday, he wrote about HP's FOSSology project:

But the truly interesting thing in this is HP itself. HP is an appropriate company to take this on, given the extent of its adoption of open source and the sophistication with which it manages that open source internally.


...Fine and good, but why not create a proprietary product that HP could sell?

For the answer, Asay then quotes HP vice president of Linux and open source, Christine Martino, as follows:

We thought about that, but there's no one-size-fits-all approach to FOSS governance. Our software fits HP very well, but there are other ways to handle governance of FOSS. We don't assume that we have all the answers or that we're even finished with how we manage FOSS at HP. The way to create the richest set of FOSS tools and practices is to open-source it so that others can build on what we've done to tailor the tools to individual enterprise needs.

If HP is offering open source tools and other big players are already buying into open source companies, what's to say they won't eventually follow HP's lead? It may take a while, and there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road, but open source is already changing the world.

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