Microsoft's Open Source Problem

| About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)
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Microsoft's (MSFT) move to put its open source assets into a new subsidiary does not solve its open source problem.

As I noted yesterday, clouds are the first enterprise technology to be developed in the era of open source.

For cloud vendors, fealty to open source is a necessity, as VMWare (VMW) acknowledged by loudly proclaiming how open source its Cloud Foundry Platform as a Service would be.

This sort of move is necessary because open source is still an undeveloped country. What started with virtualization and distributed computing became open source infrastructures such as Amazon (AMZN) Web Services and OpenStack, then open source platforms like Cloud Foundry and Red Hat's (RHT) OpenShift, the difference being that they add development tools.

Specialized cloud applications have been developed, and some software has been loaded as a cloud service, as with (CRM), but the hard work of moving enterprise applications to the new architecture, or client-server applications to the new technology, has really just begun.

Microsoft has a cloud, called Azure. It's market share is miniscule next to that of Amazon. It also has been a major contributor to open source for many years, and hosts many open source projects at Codeplex.

But there is a big difference between offering open source, hosting open source, even interoperating with open source and being open source. Microsoft isn't going to open the code to Windows, or Office, or Sharepoint. Instead, as Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. head Jean Paoli wrote:

This new structure will help facilitate the interaction between Microsoft's proprietary development processes and the company's open innovation efforts and relationships with open source and open standards communities.

There's Microsoft, and there's open source, and the two are different, separate, distinct. In an era where the key to progress is collaboration, there's your problem right there.

The problem remains. Organize all you want, but until you see open source as integral to what you are, your cloud future will remain cloudy.

Disclosure: I am long MSFT, AMZN.