IBM boosts open source software: “It’s like deju vu all over again!”
For those who have been watching the open source software ecosystem over time, or have studied its history, you likely know that IBM has often stepped up to help make a significant, positive impact to open source communities and the IT industry at large. You might recall that IBM provided early support for GNU Linux in 1999, helping in particular to make it acceptable to enterprise clients — but if not you can read a great blog by my former IBM colleague Irvin Wladawsky-Berger. IBM was also one of the first major companies to put its support behind the Apache web server community.
Perhaps less known is the story behind the creation of the Eclipse Project, an integrated development environment (IDE) initially created for Java software development. It was back on November 5, 2001, that IBM announced it was donating over $40 million worth of enterprise software development assets to form the basis of what would become the Eclipse Foundation. If you recall just how fragmented the Java software development community was back then, you know how important this action was to ensure the future of open technologies for the enterprise software developer AND the datacenter!
So it’s very exciting to see IBM once again stepping up in a major way to help create a new open community around blockchain technology. Digital currency without the overhead of third-party brokers has been emerging for the last several years, but issues continue to surround some initiatives, as documented in a recent Wired Magazine article. The IBM Research team has been working with blockchain technology for several years, and as such we can see the potential for a new generation of transactional applications that establish trust, accountability and transparency while streamlining business processes. It’s a design pattern made famous by Bitcoin, but its uses go far beyond. With it, we can re-imagine the world’s most fundamental business interactions and open the door to invent new styles of digital interactions.
For this technology to reach its maximum potential, we at IBM believe that it has to be a collaborative effort. This effort needs to advance blockchain technology by identifying and addressing important features for a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers, one that can transform the way business transactions are conducted globally. This is why on December 17, 2015, we were pleased to join the Linux Foundation and several other companies to jointly announce the HyperLedger Project.
Last week, we took the next step when IBM announced our intention to donate 44,000 lines of code to the Linux Foundation’s HyperLedger Project, along with new blockchain-as-a-service offerings on the IBM Cloud. To be clear, you can start working with IBM’s version of this technology today, based on our Open Blockchain code running on IBM Bluemix and/or running on IBM systems in your datacenter. To find out more, see the IBM Blockchain site. We fully intend to transition to using the code of the HyperLedger Project when appropriate. My colleague Chris Ferris, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Officer for Open Technology, recently blogged about this latest announcement.
IBM’s code was developed through the collaboration of more than 35 global IBM researchers and software developers and more than 100 technical architects focused on making blockchain ready for business. This is a great example of the drive behind IBM’s developerWorks Open initiative. IBM is fully committed to open source technology. That commitment to openness and collaboration is ingrained in everything we do, and infuses our work with our clients and industry partners around the world.
History repeats itself, in a good way, at IBM.