Open Source is driving innovation

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IBM’s dedication to open source

Unknown to many, IBM has a long and proud history around open source software and continues to take open source seriously. In the past 5 years alone, IBM have invested close to $1 billion and dedicated hundreds of open source development-, marketing- and evangelism resources.

To ensure every IBMer working with open source – either on company or personal time – fully understand the ever changing benefits and risks, we ask of them to take our one hour annual training. More than 62.000 IBMers complete this training every year. The training include an explanation of why open source is key to our corporate strategy, and why it’s important for all our developers to consume and contribute to open source.

Many of our commercially offered technologies and solutions are built on open source. A prime example is WebSphere Application Server, where more than 70% is open source, comprising more than 700 open source components. And WebSphere is not alone, many of our strategic solutions are powered by open source including cloud solutions, big data and analytics, blockchain, IoT, machine learning, AI / Watson and even around our Quantum Computing offerings contain open source elements.

In addition to consuming open source and contributing to a vast array of projects, IBM has also made many major contributions/donations to open source. For Hyperledger Blockchain IBM’s initial donation was more than 40.000 lines of code. Other donations include: Java, OpenLiberty, OpenWhisk serverless platform, Quantum computing API Qiskit, AI Fairness 360 Toolkit, AI Robustness Toolbox, Apache Toree, Apache SystemML and over 100 others in just the past 3 years.

IBM are careful about not forking community code. We do not want to create an “IBM Hyperledger” or “IBM Cloud Foundry” – the open source we integrate into our client facing products and solutions are based on the open source community releases. We invest in the community code and ensure that fixes and new features are up-streamed rather than adding extra complexity and effort on IBM’s part to maintain an independent, differentiating version.

IBM believes that contributing to open source projects is good manners and part of our responsibility and the essence of “the IBM way.” We continue to evolve our process to encourage our developers to engage and contribute to open source communities.

We believe that our focused engagement in open source communities is a differentiating value for our clients and if you want to read more about IBM’s position on open source, including our recommendations to clients who embark on a journey to integrate more open source, I suggest you spend 10 minutes reading what you’ll find behind the two links below.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at if you have any questions.

1. IBM’s approach to open technology – read here
2. Become an open Enterprise – read here.

Transformation Architect, CTO team IBM Software Group, Europe

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