As senior director of platform technology at Microsoft, Sam Ramji is positioned uniquely at the nexus of proprietary and open source development models.
InfoWorld spoke with Ramji about how each camp will play a pivotal role in the years to come as part of its roundtable on the state of open source. Here's how Ramji sees open source and proprietary development models evolving.
Senior director of platform technology
InfoWorld: What do you see as the most pressing challenges and opportunities for open source given the current tech climate?
Ramji: In terms of challenges, I think you have to start with the fact that most software today -- whether measured by usage or by lines of code -- is not open source, and is sold or written by commercial organizations using a proprietary model. For established companies, the shift to open source is not just about understanding what the strategy should be -- it’s about “programmatizing” open source in an organization when the primary revenue model is around traditional.
It’s also important to distinguish between commercial and community software. The maturity models for assessing community software are not well-established yet, which results in some confusion about what projects are ready to adopt at what level of importance or mission-criticality. This is an unsolved issue and represents an opportunity for the next wave of software companies or consulting organizations.
Finally, the word “open source” has become used to describe development models, licensing models, community models, distribution models, sales and marketing models, philosophical and ethical models, and is now being applied to politics. Clearly there are powerful core concepts of transparency and sharing at the heart of this. It’s starting to blur the original ideas articulated by Eric Raymond, Danese Cooper, et al, which are about the source code itself and the developers who share it. The risk is that the term itself loses meaning over time, which is unfortunate as it’s a powerful idea.
IW: Where do you see open source heading in the next five years, especially with regard to development, community, and market opportunities?