Open Source Software Up the Stack

Dennis Byron

OPEN SOURCE VIEWPOINT: Anthony Gold Joins the Open Solutions Alliance Fulltime

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NOTE: The following is a guest post from Anthony Gold of the Open Solutions Alliance:

After 24 years of working for one, and only one, company, I've made the decision to leave Unisys to devote my full efforts to the presidency of the Open Solutions Alliance (OSA). Can you imagine working for the same company that long? Was I crazy? Perhaps a little, but it's been an incredible experience.

24 Years with Unisys Led to Open Source
As a young engineer with a budding entrepreneurial spirit fresh out of college and my 64K Macintosh, I was determined to build software that would change the world. It didn't take long to realize that I was not only grossly naïve about my software talents (notwithstanding the fact that the business world looked pretty snootily on Pascal) but that the company I had joined (Burroughs at the time - later merged with Sperry to form Unisys) was much more interested in building hardware - giant mainframes. So, I became a hardware engineer who loved to code.

Some of my more memorable takeaways from those 24 years include:

  • Given the possibility of electrical shorts, never again stick my face into a group of printed circuit boards when powering them on for the very first time.
  • Looking like a fool when I agreed with Bill Gates that 640K should be enough for anybody. I had to work my tail off to get programs to fit into those lower memory bounds just to save face.
  • Getting into the Guinness Book of World Records with our ES7000 for hosting the largest number of concurrent gamers at the Dreamhack Gaming Conference. Counterstrike was a great game!
  • Creating and running the Open Source business at Unisys.

It was that last activity that has led to my decision to go full time with the OSA.

What Open Source Did for Us at Unisys
When I first came across open source, I was smitten. We were attempting to boot the ES7000 with our own proprietary operating boot kernel and having all kinds of problems. Someone suggested that we try this Linux thing. And since we built the ES7000 with Intel processors (the first Unisys mainframe that didn't use its own proprietary processors), we figured it might actually work (with a handful of BIOS changes of course).

The rest is history. Unisys went on to be the first vendor to scale commercial Linux to 32 processors, the first to 5 nines reliability, and so many other firsts. And, along the way, we helped to drive Linux into the enterprise by writing modules for dynamic partitioning and multi-path I/O.

I plan to remain connected to open source as I leave my rich Unisys career behind. This decision was based in large part on my desire to give back to the open source community on a number of levels. Developers, customers and business executives alike have given me so much during the course of my career, and I'd like to give more back without the limitations of the "big corporation day job." I believe I can have a much bigger impact on advancing the understanding of open source deployments in real practice by working on behalf of an entire industry.

Fulltime at the OSA
Part of this decision was fueled by the potential I see for the Open Solutions Alliance, the vendor-neutral nonprofit organization of which I'm the current president. This group is mature (going on two years) now and can play a pivotal role for open source business and non-profit adoption during what will be a challenging year. It is within my capacity now to be able to dedicate more time and resources into making sure this organization continues to drive interoperability among open solutions.

I am a board member of Bluenog and a Fellow and advisor at LiquidHub and look forward to writing and consulting with the growing number of companies that are developing or integrating open source software.

I've brought on board at Unisys an extremely gifted successor in Scott Sanchez to run the open source practice. Scott has nearly two decades of technology and business experience, and has managed security and enterprise architecture programs at firms like Goldman Sachs and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

So, while the economy struggles, I do see open source helping to change the world. Not just the economics of open source software and its associated business models, but the model of mass collaboration and its power to allow people to self-select, build meritocratic communities, and so quickly create amazing "structures". It is fun to watch, and even more fun to participate.

You can read more at my blog or reach me at anthony@anthonygold.info.

-- Anthony Gold


13 Comments

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Dennis Byron’s blog on open source software: A longtime market research analyst follows what “the movement? means to business integration—in applications, infrastructure, as services, as architecture and as functionality.

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