“IBM and Red Hat should *not* both keep their JCP EC seats”
The news that tech giant IBM is acquiring Red Hat made waves throughout the industry. We talked to WSO2 CEO Tyler Jewell and Paul Fremantle, CTO of WSO2 about the impact of the acquisition on the open source ecosystem, the Java market, the JCP EC seats and more.
In a surprising turn of events, tech giant IBM acquired Red Hat to the tune of $34 billion. According to the press release, the “most significant tech acquisition of 2018 will unlock true value of cloud for businesses”.
Yesterday, we talked to Karthik Ramasamy, co-founder of Streamlio, who thinks that “the acquisition makes clear that the window for additional public cloud platforms to gain traction has passed completely.” When asked if both IBM and Red Hat should keep their JCP EC seats, he said the following
Community and standards bodies almost always benefit from a balance of interests rather than any concentration of power aligned with a single member company, and in that light, it would be wise to have IBM not have greater influence there by virtue of having multiple seats.
Read the entire interview here.
Our next interviewees are WSO2 CEO Tyler Jewell and Paul Fremantle, CTO of WSO2, who weigh in on the impact of the acquisition on the open source ecosystem, the Java market, the JCP EC seats and more.
JAXenter: What impact will the acquisition have on the open source ecosystem?
Tyler Jewell: The combination of IBM and Red Hat will see IBM make a larger overall resource commitment for people who are actively working within an open source project. The potential impact is around how those projects are developed over time. Red Hat has an employee conflict of interest policy that explicitly allows employees to work on any open source project even if those projects are not in Red Hat’s commercial interest. This policy allows a broad set of freedoms for how Red Hat employees spend their off hours time and potentially allowing for the development and success of numerous projects that are counter to Red Hat’s general objectives.
If the IBM standard becomes the norm, the industry could lose out on variety and richness of projects unfold.
This has been a boon for open source projects, as Red Hat employees who are skilled in the nurturing and advancement of open source projects permeate through all sorts of projects that are unmonitored by upper management. IBM doesn’t have such a policy and has a more direct hand in how people are allocated to projects. While both approaches are good for open source, if the IBM standard becomes the norm, the industry could lose out on variety and richness of projects unfold.
JAXenter: Does this mean OSS is more important than ever? How does this move unlock the future of cloud computing?
Tyler Jewell: It seems that OSS is now the definitive driver for the entire cloud operating stack. If it’s not open source, it’s not getting wide adoption. IBM is well positioned to become the cloud infrastructure provider to all of the public clouds around the world, with exception of the mega clouds like AWS, Google, or Microsoft who view rolling their own infrastructure as a fundamental competitive necessity.
The Red Hat buy is a commitment on IBM’s part to own the entire cloud infrastructure stack, and with most of it already open source, it pretty much sets the tone that open source will win out.
JAXenter: The truth is, even though the acquisition shows how important the open source space is, things can go south and people are worried that the move can be damaging for customers if Red Hat’s direction is moved toward IBM’s traditional closed and proprietary model. Do you think that might happen? What can be done to prevent that?
Tyler Jewell: Only time will tell. IBM has made it clear that they place financial outcomes as their top priority. So will IBM be able to respect Red Hat and open source business models if their financial future is threatened? One way to prevent that would be to have this turn into a reverse merger, with Red Hat acquiring IBM, Jim Whitehurst installed as IBM CEO, and the Red Hat approach to open source IP and community established as the corporate IBM standard.
JAXenter: You mentioned in your latest blog post that the acquisition is a disaster for the Kubernetes and Docker communities because important competitors with differing views will be forced to rationalize their offerings. What do you think will happen in this space?
Tyler Jewell: A lot more investment will happen in Kubernetes and Docker because of a bigger commitment from IBM. But we’ll likely see less overall choice as IBM will be incentivized to rationalize differences across IBM and Red Hat.
IBM has made it clear that they place financial outcomes as their top priority. So will IBM be able to respect Red Hat and open source business models if their financial future is threatened?
JAXenter: Can IBM make up for lost time with the acquisition of Red Hat or is the race already lost?
Tyler Jewell: IBM is already successful in the bare metal public cloud market from their softlayer acquisition. This is an area where the mega cloud guys are weak. And IBM will dominate the cloud infrastructure wars for everyone that needs to roll their own cloud. Those two segments are substantial and IBM will be the #1 vendor there. IBM doesn’t need to play catch up on IaaS and PaaS public clouds against AWS and Google to be a massive cloud vendor. They can partner well here and still be a major player.
JAXenter: What does the Java market have to lose or gain?
Paul Fremantle: Diversity of vendors and approaches around Java have always helped improve the ecosystem. A case in point: JBoss helped improve IBM WebSphere by providing strong competition.
JAXenter: Both IBM and Red Hat are members of the JCP EC. Do you think they should both keep their seats?
Paul Fremantle: They definitely should not both keep their seats. The EC is designed to represent major stakeholders and a representative cross-section of the community. IBM/RedHat are now logically a single stakeholder and one of their seats should make way for another stakeholder.