Open Source Alive and Well at Dell

Image courtesy of MIT

I will admit it…I don’t understand Wall Street sometimes. No…make that most of the time.  They see Dell as a PC maker (which, of course, we are) but we are so much more than that.  Take for example two of our special initiatives with Hadoop and OpenStack, courtesy of the Data Center Solutions team.

Let’s also not forget the companies that have joined the Dell family in the past few years such as Equallogic, Compellent, Force10, AppAssure, Boomi and a host of others.  Then you look at our acquisition of Perot Systems (now called Dell Services) and the recent addition of Mr. John Swainson as the President of Dell Software.  Yes…I left a few things out, but I can’t forget one of our most important things…the Dell Crowbar utility that was written and released into Open Source by Dell.  Combine all of that with relationships with Red Hat, Canonical and SUSE…Open Source is alive and well at Dell, and I, for one, could not be happier.

Don’t get me wrong…I understand that there are a lot of companies that rely on their Intellectual Property and proprietary software for their revenue, and that is fine.  Microsoft (who has also embraced Open Source in some respect in their Open Source Lab, Port 25) is the perfect example of this, and while I grew up on Unix and Linux, and have spent a good portion of my professional career working in Open Source I understand the proprietary model.  Having said that, as Linux has proven itself and the Open Source model as a solid option, more and more companies have embraced Open Source technologies.  Why is this important?  Companies have realized that Open Source provides them the ability to take a product and make it do EXACTLY what they want it to do.  They don’t have to settle for 85% of what they want any more.  They can take that product and make it do 100% of what they want, and as an IT professional that is really exciting.

At Dell, we support Microsoft on all of our platforms, but we don’t stop there.  We also have the Linux Open Source Solutions business team because many of our customers run Linux…so we need to properly support them through our products, partnerships and solutions.

One of the things that I really get excited about is that because we are joined at the hip with Open Source in many areas, we are looking for people who want to contribute to our Crowbar project.  That’s right…we want Open Source developers to contribute code to make Crowbar better, because when deploying Hadoop and OpenStack, the more features and functionality that are available to the end user, the better.  Dell is not unique to this.  That is how Linux, Open Source and frankly the Free Software movement got started.  It was an entire community of people, both inside and outside of a company working on a piece of software that, while labeled with a particular companies logo, contained code from developers from all over the world.  It was good for the company because you can’t necessarily employ all of those people, but they have a chance to make a piece of software better for their needs, and thus, the entire product is improved and the user base world-wide benefits from those contributions.  THAT is what makes Open Source great.

Not long ago I was remembering the “good ole days” when Linux was fighting to grow up.  I remember the religious wars about which distribution was better, and why.  The first time I met Linus Torvalds I said to him “thank you for making computing fun again” because I could actually create.  LUG’s (Linux Users Groups) were everywhere…and then before we knew it, Linux was mainstream and the wars ended.  That ability to create IS NOT DEAD…and when you look at initiatives like Hadoop, OpenStack and Crowbar, you have more than enough opportunity to contribute to some really great projects…and these are just a few.  Firefox from Mozilla, Apache, OpenOffice, GIMP, etc. all offer chances to contribute and make things better.  Here at Dell, we are no exception.

Open Source is VERY much alive, and I am excited to be a part of a company that really “gets it” when it comes to the value of Open Source.

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