Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Presentation: Paul Cormier from Red Hat at QUT

Yesterday, Paul Cormier, Executive Vice President and President, Products and Technologies, Red Hat gave a talk titled "Red Hat and the Open Source Software Business: from boxed software to a half billion dollar server company" at QUT.

Paul made two points that stand out in my mind:

  1. The primary differentiator of an open source project software project (compared to closed source) is in the ability to build a community of people around the project.

  2. He sees Red Hat as taking open source work and packaging it in a way that is palatable from an enterprise perspective. Specifically, providing stability and backward compatibility for a 'long-enough' period of time.
If I consider Scala in this light, it is currently doing well on the first point, but not so well on the second. Given that the primary users of Java are enterprises, this is important if mainstream penetration is an objective.

Having said that, I think there is a time when the cost of backwards compatibility outweighs the benefits and my threshold seems to be a fair bit lower than that of the average enterprise. In this case, I think enterprises would do well to step back and consider the real costs in doing a software project in Java (or Ruby/Groovy for that matter) and seriously consider the potential benefits from more advanced programming languages.

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