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Opening closed minds to open source

ZDNet LogoCompanies including Oracle, IBM and HP are successfully utilizing open source software-including GPL software-with no harmful side effects or infection of their intellectual property. Further, as others have pointed out, many open source licenses such as the IBM Public License, the MPL, and BSD-type licenses, enable and facilitate the peaceful co-existence of open source and proprietary software in different ways.

This may come as a surprise to Jack, but as a passionate advocate of the open source development model, I am also realistic about where it's applicable today.

For companies accustomed to proprietary software development, determining where it makes strategic sense to `go open source' can present a significant challenge. And contrary to what Microsoft may want you to believe, it's far from an all-or-nothing proposition. As it turns out, many companies today choose to develop and release the source code for specific pieces of software under open source licenses for sound business reasons: To leverage rapid innovation; to improve cost savings in R&D; to increase quality assurance and support; to build a broad base of developers, advocates and users; and even set standards for specific market segments.

CEPS, the Cisco Enterprise Print System, is a classic example of infrastructure software that was released under the GPL to maximize the cost benefits of leveraging a larger community of developers and testers, and to make sure that the code would continue to be supported in the future. Similarly, HP has contributed a significant amount of open source printing software to improve printing solutions for Linux, thereby demonstrating leadership as a provider of printing hardware.

Many other companies choose to contribute to existing software projects, because it often helps them with the development, support and sales of their products. Vendors who have contributed software code to Samba, for example, include HP, IBM, SGI, Sun Microsystems, VA Linux Systems and Veritas.

After all is said and done, what's buried under all of Microsoft's anti-open source FUD is its own little secret: The Redmond Empire is quite happy to fund open source development when it suits its purposes.