Larry Ellison, Oracle’s Flamboyant Billionaire CEO is back. During Oracle's OpenWorld Conference in Tokyo, he stated “There’s a lot of romantic notions about Open Source”. This could not be closer to the truth. The overwhelming majority of players in the IT industry are part and parcel of the Open Source movement. Even Microsoft has been ‘contaminated’ by what it once called a cancer.
Ellison highlighted the cliché many people hold about Open Source: it is the work of a single person stuck in his bedroom, separated from the rest of the world. Even if this were true of Linux’s Linus Torvalds, and more recently BitTorrrent’s Bram Cohen, it is no longer how things work.
Giants like IBM, Sun Microsystems, Google, Intel, and Oracle are investing time, money, and man-power in the Open Source movement. All with the hope of getting tangible returns on investment either as direct sales, public relations, or positive associations. The original Open Source movement has had to welcome - willingly or otherwise - these massive conglomerates.
Nonetheless, they have been beneficial in bringing Open Source into the corporate world. Think about Sun’s Openoffice and OpenSolaris initiative, Microsoft-backed Paint.net (yep, a real Gimp Competitor), IBM Eclipse, etc. And these are only the most famous ones. The search for Sun Microsystems backed Open Source apps brought forth dozens more. IBM has 169 separate open source projects currently on their website, part of Big Blue’s $1 billion injection into open source.
More important, however, is that these Mega corporations played a part in pushing forward the Open Source agenda and providing credibility. Now that’s something even Micrososft’s dollars can’t buy.