Red Hat exec: Open Source is mature, disruptive and innovative

Craig Nielsen was one of eight speakers at the WA open source symposium earlier this month. He talks about where the industry stands and where it is rapidly heading.

Open source is disruptive, it develops rapidly, is adopted quickly, and it efficiently meets market needs while enabling new market capabilities. These were some of the statements made at an open source symposium held in Western Australia (WA) earlier this month.

The WA Department of Industry and Resources put on the symposium, held at the University of Western Australia, in partnership with the Western Australian Supercomputer Program.

Organisers said it was a successful event with over 60 high-level executives from various industry sectors, universities, and all levels of government attending.

Speakers included Jeff and Pia Waugh, from Waugh partners, Michael Carden, from National Archives of Australia, Mahendra Singh from National Australia Bank and Grant Allen from Google, Kevin Wilson from IBM Software Group, Trevor Denton from Unisys and Craig Nielsen from Red Hat.

We managed to catch up with Red Hat ANZ Alliances Manager Craig Nielsen after the event to find out where he thinks the Open Source industry stands and where the market is heading.

You spoke at the symposium about the disruptive nature of open source and how open source innovation has been successful, both in terms of meeting market needs and offering new capabilities:

What exactly do you mean by disruptive?

By disruptive I use the Christensen definition of the expression, which means that we have addressed market requirements in the operating system platform and middleware platform space at a significantly lower price point creating a disruptive technology effect. Our open source business model enables us to deliver high quality, feature rich software platforms with a completely different set of economics compared with a proprietary software model.

How successful has this "disruption" been?

IDC reports more than 21 percent of all servers run Linux and it is the fastest growing server environment. Apache has 65 percent of the Web Server market according to Netcraft, Mozilla has 12 percent of the market and it is growing fast according to Onestat. Jboss has over 37 percent of the app server market according to BZ Research.

What are some examples of the new capabilities that open source development has addressed?

Open source is standards driven and increased adoption of standards across all layers of the software stack means that companies using open source are not locked into proprietary vendors and solutions. This is good for customers since if we remove the "lock in" factor, and vendors will be forced to compete on the basis of the value they create for customers.

Access to the source code is important for some organisations. Good examples are government, defence and security sensitive agencies and Telco's. Technology has become core business for many industries and they increasingly value the ability to review the source code from an auditing perspective. For example, would it make political sense for a government to build or buy an open source voting system so that there could be no secrets as to how the voting system worked from any perspective?

Organisations may choose to make changes to the code or packages they choose to implement. It gives them a layer of control that proprietary software doesn't.

So we believe Red Hat, and open source products in general, give customers the capabilities of choice and transparency, both of which seem to be diminishing in a rapidly consolidating IT environment.

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Dahna McConnachie

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