Consulting Times: Inside IBM

“Three and one-half years ago — in the middle of ’98
— I was part of a corporate technology team that was looking at
emerging technologies. I raised my hand and said ‘So what’s our
Linux strategy?’ They said we didn’t have one, so I got assigned to
start working on it. I ended up co-authoring the original Linux and
open source strategies, and I’ve been doing it ever since, in one
role or another. In the role I have now — and this is something we
started a while back — I’m the director of the Linux Technology

Our basic mission is to help make Linux better — not make Linux
better for IBM products, just make Linux better, period. So we have
about 250 people in eight countries — 25 cities — around the
world who work all in open source, as peers in the community.
They’re working on 50-60 different projects — all aimed at making
Linux better — and most aimed at making Linux better for the
enterprise in particular. So we work on volume management and
scalability and security and systems management and networking —
all the various attributes of an operating system that you would
normally work on if you were a commercial development shop. And I
tell you, we have a great time doing it!

Our folks all work out in the community. Sometimes we bring
technology from IBM — where there is something missing or we think
we have technology that’s maybe better than what’s out there —
we’ll open source technology from one of IBM’s software products.
More often though, we just simply join an existing community in
working on, say, ITB sets. We take some of the best programmers
we’ve got — they join the community, they start at the bottom, and
they work their way up and contribute like other people. When we
write good code it gets accepted, and when we write bad code it
gets rejected, just like everybody else. We really do consider
ourselves as peer members within the community.”

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