James Governor's Monkchips

Seven Things About Computer Associates and Open Source Software

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I meant it to be five but then I thought of a couple more…. the points below are based on a conversation over lunch recently (well, about 4 months ago) with Marcel den Hartog, CA’s European open source evangelist. I meant to post it at the time. Some of the content is forward-looking, but it does look like CA has a substantive commitment to open source. Why am i posting now? Because i am at CA’s industry analyst symposium in New York (more later).

1. Open Source Ingres. While world and dog already know about this news, which was widely covered in the news, its still worth noting that Ingres is a full featured high end database with all the bells and whistles. It has capabilities that are far in advance of mySQL: Ingres, for example, is fully certified to run SAP R/3 applications.

2. CA was a driving force behind the formation of the Plone Foundation, which provides legal, organizational, and technical support for the Plone content management framework, built on top of the Zope server.

3. CA’s Patent Pledge – The company is the latest major vendor talking about making a formal commitment not to abuse its intellectual property rights. CA says its planning to offer protection to the community for a set of patents related to Linux and OSS-related software. For now though; its just talk… the chatter started five months ago.

4. CA has taken an industry lead on open source license issues. Sam Greenblatt, one of the writers of the Commodore 64 operating system, and like me a big fan of the 6502 chip architecture, has led a debate around open source licensing complexity. Here is quite a nice primer. A big part of leadership is being willing to put forward unpopular positions, and that is exactly what Sam did when he publicly argued that open source licenses were unhelpfully proliferating and needed to be simplified. The usual open source black helicopters quickly opened fire but Greenblatt was right to open the debate. The OSI is likely to change somewhat over the next year or so as open source matures and, like it or not, professionalises. Having said all that, CA of course has its own license, but then vanity affects us all. Could it be CDDL? Simplification is good, but so is choice, the right to fork, and some rights reserved.

5. CA would like to made a contribution to Linux, in the shape of the “kernel generalised event manager”. CA found that when it made products to run on Linux, some of its security and performance tools didn’t have enough instrumentation to work with. Code is not easily accepted into the Linux base however. This is another work in progress.

6. CA is a JBoss supporter, offering tools to manage the application server, and integrating Ingres with Hibernate, a component of the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS). There is even some speculation that CA would actually buy JBoss – but we’ll leave that as a rumour for now.

7. One intriguing prospect is that CA will open source its configuration management database (CMDB), which will support WS-CIM, and which CA will use as a foundation for its ITSM story. I would have said this was still vaporware, but i just saw a demo of some pretty stunning asset management software which indicates CA is getting close to GA, at least in terms of desktop management. BMC, HP and IBM are all considering mass distribution strategies for CMDBs. The winner in this race may well be the vendor that open sources its technology in order to build a community around it. IBM has by far the most experience in this field (see Eclipse) but the race hasn’t really got started yet.

All in all it looks like CA is serious about open source, but is in a holding position while the company absorbs the changes driven by new CEO John Swainson. Hopefully i will know more by end of play tomorrow.

One comment

  1. You forget one more.:-) CA is a Strategic Developer at Eclipse and is actively participating in our Test and Performance Project.

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