Rackspace now cool with employees working on rival projects

Lucy Carey

Change comes as part of bid to consolidate company’s position in open source communities around the world.

IaaS company
is a fervent proponent of “open” development – so
much so, that in the past week, it’s taken the step of announcing
that its employees are now at liberty to work on any open source
project in the ecosystem – even those which directly compete
against Rackspace backed initiatives.

According to vice president of intellectual property
Van Lindberg, this move will help consolidate Rackspace’s position
in open source communities around the world, and help drive the
practice across the entire sector. In a
on the company’s blog, he added that by opening
up policy to include  any open source project with an
established open source license, Rackspace hope to foster greater
sharing and collaboration.

Prior to this shift, employees had to get permission
from the company’s IP Committee/legal department before plunging
into open source ventures of their choosing. Following a review of
three years worth of submissions however, it was decided that
‘Rackers’ had  proved to have sufficient judgement in their
decisions to warrant a relaxation of this practice – up to a

According to the statement, employees must get
permission from their managers to tool on external projects during
working hours. And, if a project if directly competitive, they’ll
still have to help Rackspace “understand why” they’ll be
contributing before they get started. Still, a simple chat with a
line manager is a considerably less onerous prospect than jumping
through legal department hoops.

Open development has long been intertwined with the DNA of
Rackspace, as evidenced by their commitment to work on Open Stack,
as well as the Open Compute Project.  This move feels like a
natural progression of this ethos – and, at the end of the day, any
OSS innovation, even one generated by a rival team – can easily be
ported in for the benefit of Rackspace itself.

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