Did IBM Give Up on Open Source?

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IBM says it has every right to decide to whom it sells a license and to protect its intellectual property. It expressed that position in a statement it has been circulating: "Being the first to develop an idea often takes enormous resources -- resources that would be difficult to justify if the invention could immediately be copied and sold by another for a fraction of the development cost. Allowing IBM to choose for itself whether to license that technology encourages innovation and competition for new ideas."

That's a reasonable argument (I'm not saying it's correct or incorrect), but IBM goes over the top when it claims that TurboHercules' attempt to make money in mainframe emulation is "not really any different from those who seek to market cheap knock-offs of brand-name clothing or apparel." Cheap knockoffs of Gucci bags might sell, but how likely are companies that need mainframe capabilities to buy a gaudy piece of junk?

Then there's the whole issue of Microsoft's role in this, a point IBM has made much of. Microsoft is undoubtedly happy to stir the pot and complicate matters for a major rival. Maybe Hercules is a proxy for Microsoft -- but so what?

Microsoft doesn't have a lot of skin in this game; the chances of a major defection from the mainframe to servers running emulation software are remote. Even if that happened, the operating system wouldn't be Windows; it would be z/OS. Seeing this issue as part of some cosmic chess game muddies the issue and helps no one.

As I said, this is very complex; maybe there's no villain here at all. I hope that mainframe users and members of the open source community will weigh in on this one, here or elsewhere, in a civil way.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net.

This article, "Has IBM turned its back on open source?," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com.

This story, "Did IBM Give Up on Open Source?" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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