Open source needs social freedoms for business to thrive | #theCUBE


When open source was first introduced in 1991 with Linux, it was considered a novelty in the industry, a new toy for developers to play with. Today, it’s a fundamental driver of technology innovation across all software companies, according to Dirk Hohndel, VP and chief open source officer at VMware Inc.

“Open source is more than software development methodology; open source is how a group of people interact and how you create fantastic technology,” said Hohndel.

To discuss issues around open source’s place at VMware, as well as the surprising social aspects of open source, Hohndel joined John Furrier (@furrier), co-host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio. The conversation was conducted onsite at the VMware campus in Palo Alto, CA, this week as part of an editorial series of interviews intended to find out what’s coming next for the virtualization products maker.

Open source: It’s not just for technology anymore

Open source is not just the technology itself, the ‘bits and bytes’; it’s also a social phenomenon, affecting how people interact with each other and with companies. A big component of open source is for developers to be participants in a community and contribute back, understanding how these communities, made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds and from different regions of the world, can work together to create great software.

Hohndel cautioned that that the most dangerous thing a company can do is to hire the top players in a project, take them behind closed doors, have them only work on your product version and atrophy the community.

“You want to make sure that the projects that you use, that are integral to your business, stay healthy; that you don’t become the sole provider of engineering resources that you aren’t the only user,” Hohndel said. He also said it’s crucial to listen to people outside of your company; to listen to what’s important, what needs to be changed and where there are bugs that need to be addressed.

Making open source better, together

Recently, VWware open sourced a project named Clarity, a software design system to create JavaScript UIs based on Angular. While it’s not core to VMware business, it is a critical tool that is used to create WMware web UIs. The company made Clarity open source in order to drive a community around this tool, very much in the hope that more and more industry players will use the same tools and technolog, and that they will work together to make it better.

“People in technology build an opinion of a company based on what they can see in public; the way they treat the community, the way they engage in this space has an impact on how they’re seen, creating great technology,” explained Hohndel.

To energize the open source-savvy engineers who are already at VMWare and to build an open-source technology center, Hohndel is bringing in some of the “rock stars” of the industry to help them grow faster in open source, to build up more expertise in the area and to be internal mentors.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of VMware 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE