Sam Ramji: Open source is burgeoning at Microsoft

David Worthington
December 23, 2008 —  (Page 1 of 6)
Microsoft has begun to realign its legal department, allowing it to work in collaboration with its engineers so that product teams can have more flexibility with open-source software. The company is evangelizing—internally—that more interoperability can be good for the bottom line. Microsoft's Sam Ramji, senior director of platform strategy, discussed with SD Times his company's evolution to a pragmatic viewpoint toward open source, and explained why the company is offering its support to some open-source projects that it feels advances its business and technology goals.

SD Times: Your colleague Robert Duffner [senior director of platform strategy] recently told us that product groups drive Microsoft's participation in open-source projects. How much autonomy do those groups have to work with open source?

Sam Ramji: A few very good examples [of product groups driving open-source involvement] are Windows HPC Server 2008 and System Center Operations Manager. As the Windows Server team built out its clustering HPC product, it realized that the differentiating fact of HPC clustering is the

Sam Ramji, senior director of platform strategy
scheduler and programming stack on which massively parallel applications run.

The Argonne National Lab already had MPICH [a Message Passing Interface implementation] under an open-source license. Rather than bring a new product into the market, [the HPC product team at Microsoft] realized that it would be easier to develop MPICH to the Microsoft platform. They worked with Argonne to build Windows optimization for the stack, built [MPICH] into [Windows] HPC Server, shipped, and contributed changes back to the project.

This is an example of what I have articulated before about the sustainability of open source: It is critical [for Microsoft] to have ongoing business reasons to be engaged [with open source]. Teams work with specific open-source projects to make their products better and more appealing.

The System Center upcoming release includes capacity for managing Linux and Unix servers. [The System Center product team] did analysis and realized that OpenPegasus [an open-source services broker] was well adopted and structured in the open-source community. [The team] chose to implement OpenPegasus as connectors/adapters for the upcoming System Center release. It plans to contribute back, and Microsoft joined the OpenPegasus committee.

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