Open source innovation is now all about vendor on-ramps

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In the enterprise world, open source has long been a bit tentative. Starting in the early 2000s, various vendors started contributing bits and pieces of code, careful not to give away anything too valuable, all while hoping for positive marketing effect. It was, as Stephen Walli wrote in 2007, a matter of gifting complementary technology to secure potential customers’ interest in the core of your business.

It mostly didn’t work.

Today, open source has become a primary driver of innovation, but we’re still too tentative in our contributions. Much of the most impressive innovation is being hatched at the public cloud vendors, specifically Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud (“AMG,” as Bernard Golden calls them), with TensorFlow, Kubernetes, and more being contributed to the wider open source community.

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