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Should VMware open source ESX server?

This blogger has some points to make about open sourcing ESX server.

His arguments are:

  • ESX is already using many open source technologies and components, whether we say it's built on top of Linux OS, using Linux kernel, or is a Linux derivative, it is built on an open source foundation.

  • ESX Server make Linux users feel at home, and Linux community are used to find, evaluate and use open source projects before they recommend it to their employers and use it in the enterprise, imagine a project called OpenESX, and fully open source and free virutualization project where anyone if the world can contribute to the design, development, testing, and documenting of every part of it just like Fedora project and Redhat. VMware will sponsor the project and support the development.

  • It will provide rapid progress, more innovation, closeness to the users, and larger user exposure: open source's advantages.

Good point but in the wake of the apparent legitimization of Linux and Open Source and also the move of open source firms building products with OSS stack and going proprietery (with a OSS arm as well) why should VMware go that way. I am not saying that its a bad move, in fact it is a very good move. but I want to know from experience of other firms (who have gone that way) a couple of things:

  • Did your sales shoot up after the release of your OSS?
  • What is the added value (I know community and all that stuff but )?
  • What about reputational advantage or disadvantage (Think of that prolific developer who walked out of fedora because of poor patching and other issues. This guy was a loyal, not on payroll, but loyal. Then he defected to Ubuntu)
  • Manageability: You'll need a huge and a long arm to manage that OSS initiative, do you have the capacity to do that? Do you pay those project members enough so they can help you out and give you a good report?
  • Cash and Investors: what do the investors think?
I think if that was a good path then Microsoft would have gone that way long long ago.

Now in favor:

  • User community would benefit greatly from it.
  • That will make ESX almost pervasive and a household name
  • Innovation will shoot inall directions: Super computing, mobile devices, provisioning, etc
My advice:

  • Have people on your payroll and not just some amateur or professional contributors because they can step away when jilted. Better get them onboard if you want to go that way!
  • Metrics: Keep the fundings tight and measure the projects regularly. Keep asking questions: does it generate any value? does it generate cash? If not, shelve it!
  • Investors on board. Very crucial!
final advice: Should they? I'd say "not yet, not in 2007 atleast!"

Read this post.


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