Gartner, Open Source, and Microsoft - InformationWeek

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7/18/2007
10:54 AM
Seth Grimes
Seth Grimes
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Gartner, Open Source, and Microsoft

I received Gartner e-mail this week marketing their up-coming open-source summit. Analysts will explain the heretofore anti-establishment open-source movement, albeit without the help of representatives of the communities that lend open source its power and vibrancy. The message contains gems that help further illuminate Gartner's perspective on open source and the larger IT world...

I received Gartner e-mail this week marketing their up-coming open-source summit. The message contains gems that illuminate Gartner's perspective on open source and the larger IT world.

I characterized Gartner as the oracle of IT establishment and looked at their summit plans in a blog entry last week. Analysts will explain the heretofore anti-establishment open-source movement, albeit without the help of representatives of the communities that lend open source its power and vibrancy. Gartner's theme -- a quite valid one -- seems to be that establishment IT needs to come to grips with open source, and of course that Gartner is the organization that can show the way. They claim to be good at it.I learn from an article provided as part of Gartner's promotional e-mail, a report on Gartner's 2005 open-source summit in Spain, that --

A long time ago, a small company called Microsoft was helped out by the Gartner group. As we all know Microsoft eventually became one the largest companies on the planet. Most likely it was the existence of Microsoft that was one of the major factors in the creation of free software technologies. The lack of the MS Windows non-disclosure agreement* has helped innumerable developers and many multi-nationals to create and innovate in a way that was not possible before.

There you have it, the Gartner world view:

  • Gartner made Microsoft what it is.
  • Not only did Gartner shape Microsoft, it wouldn't be wrong to see Gartner as the Grandfather of Open Source!
  • How did Windows get to be what it is? It was non-disclosure, which, by implication, Gartner recommended to Microsoft and which this Gartner article seems to see as a core characteristic of open source.

The article was written by Gartner Research Director Laurie Wurster. She continues in a way that does make me wonder if she speaks for (or even to) the majority of her Gartner colleagues --

Whilst Gartner haven't completely turned their back on proprietary software, they have now gone a long way towards pushing free software technologies, in the way that they used to endorse the Microsoft forerunner.
-- who, I doubt, view Microsoft technologies as a "forerunner" to open source. One last point:
On the opening day, the conference got under way when Mark Driver gave the welcome speech. Driver predicted that by 2007, 75 per cent of mainstream IT organizations will have a formal open-source acquisition policy and management system in place. Those who don't will be in deep trouble.
I see little evidence that either this forecast or the predicted consequences are reality. It will be interesting to learn what comes out of this year's Gartner Open Source Summit.


*]I believe that the application programming interfaces (APIs) are the only part of Windows that Microsoft has traditionally released to developers without an NDA.


Seth Grimes is an analytics strategist with Washington DC based Alta Plana Corporation.I received Gartner e-mail this week marketing their up-coming open-source summit. Analysts will explain the heretofore anti-establishment open-source movement, albeit without the help of representatives of the communities that lend open source its power and vibrancy. The message contains gems that help further illuminate Gartner's perspective on open source and the larger IT world...

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