Oracle boasts an extensive list of free and open source software, now more than ever with its recent acquisition of Sun. IBM is a key contributor to the Linux kernel and dozens of other high-profile open source projects. Google has released millions of lines of code of Android, Chrome, and GWT (Google Web Toolkit) for public use.
But none of the aforementioned companies nor their free offerings would constitute open source companies, at least as defined by Paul Cormier, Red Hat's president of products and technologies, in a recent interview.
[ See InfoWorld's slideshow of 7 open source innovations on the cutting edge | Looking for more great open source tools? Check out InfoWorld's "Top 10 open source apps for Windows" and "Top 10 open source apps for Mac OS X," as well as the most recent winners of InfoWorld's Best of Open Source Software Awards. ]
"I wouldn't even consider calling [Oracle] an open source company at all," Cormier said in a recent interview. "When you're making a choice as a company on what's open and what's closed then your customers suffer."
Beyond withholding key features from your customers, a true open source company doesn't limit who works on its code, Cormier argued: "OpenSolaris is not open. There is no community other than Sun people developing Solaris."
Is Cormier correct? Well, I doubt that IBM or Oracle would argue that they are, in fact, open source companies. After all, much of their bread and butter come from selling proprietary products (as well as services and support).