Bob Sutor on Open Source

by

Bob Sutor

Sutor’s visit rocked!
Yesterday Bob Sutor, IBM’s Vice president of Standards and Open Source, visited SJSU. He spoke to a small group of Business, Engineering, Computer Science and Journalism students and faculty. He put on a great presentation, I wish my whole class could have heard it.

Sutor spoke about open source and how it differs from open standards and about the need for hardware and software manufacturers to comply with open standards to ensure interoperability. He also spoke about Web 2.0 and blogging. According to Sutor blogging, which has been in the mainstream for 4-5 years, is changing the face of journalism, business and politics. Sutor said, “everybody is a journalist.”

On the subject of open source, Sutor spoke extensively about Web Services and Apache Web Server, the free application that powers the majority of the world’s web servers. “Apache is an example of open source,” Sutor said. According to Sutor the first web services standard was published seven years before by both IBM and Microsoft on the same date as his presentation. “There is still a place for proprietary solutions,” said Sutor. But, he said, “you can build a business on open source, just ask Google.” Google’s servers run their own version of Linux according to Sutor. “Education is the biggest adopter of open source,” Sutor said. As an example for how open source applies to education and government agencies, Sutor recommended the Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies. Sutor also spoke a lot about Moodle and other open source solutions for education.

Sutor spoke a lot about open standards and how they relate to competition and innovation. From the perspective of the provider competition may not seem good and they may work very hard to convince you of the need to go with a sole provider. But for the buyer competition is good as it drives down prices and drives the providers to innovate. But, in order for this to be possible buyers have to insist on open standards to assure interoperability, according to Sutor. It is hard for some vendors to let go of closed standards. Sutor said letting go of closed standards for them can be compared to the five stages of grief.

Sutor  spoke extensively about virtual worlds and specifically Second Life. He showed the group IBM’s SOA island in Second Life. Note – IBM SOA stands for Service Oriented Architecture. The IBM island has customer briefing rooms where employees can meet with each other and with customers in a virtual environment that eliminates the need for travel. According to Sutor there are between 36,000 to 38,000 people in Second Life at any given moment. Second Life has its own currency and its own virtual economy. They are planning to open source their server software which would enable organizations like SJSU to create our own virtual worlds, said Sutor. “This is huge,” he said.

We need to do a better job of spreading the word on events like this. I have only captured a small amount of what Sutor said. I was inspired.

Full Disclosure
My wife, Susan Graziano Sloan works for IBM in a different division than Sutor. She works on IBM’s DB2 database product and wrote a couple of books on DB2 including DB2 for z/OS.

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