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 Rackspace 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 statement 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 point.

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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