Red Hat pitching proprietary lock-in as "open"

If IBM were content to have the platform dictate the licensing of the application running on it, Red Hat and IBM could credibly call the solution "open." But I haven't seen IBM lining up to change its Lotus licensing to an open-source license. IBM licen

Red Hat offering "open" IBM Lotus Domino Red Hat

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. In what must have been gross oversight, Red Hat is pitching proprietary software on its website under the banner of "No vendor lock-in." The way Red Hat and IBM make it appear, simply running one's software on an open platform like Linux magically removes the proprietary lock-in of the application.

I hate to say this, Red Hat, but it just doesn't work that way. Last time I checked, IBM's Lotus Domino is proprietary software and running it on Linux hasn't changed that fact.

If it did, we'd be calling Microsoft Office open source (Hey, it runs on Linux via WINE) and a whole host of other things "open" and "lock-in free."

Red Hat's positioning of IBM's software on its site is oddly out of character with the open-source leader:

IBM and Red Hat have teamed to offer you the best of both worlds: A complete enterprise-class messaging and collaboration solution with the rock-solid reliability, security and simplicity of Linux.

The result: Open collaboration software that improves organizational effectiveness, while providing you a more secure, more scalable platform that eliminates the costs and potential risks of locking in with a single vendor.

See the sleight of hand? Proprietary collaboration solution plus open-source platform equals open collaboration solution. If Red Hat and IBM were in Logic 101, they would have just failed the exam.

If IBM were content to have the platform dictate the licensing of the application running on it, Red Hat and IBM could credibly call the solution "open." But I haven't seen IBM lining up to change its Lotus licensing to an open-source license. IBM licenses its software as it chooses, and it chooses proprietary licensing, which is fine. But Red Hat shouldn't pretend that running an application on an open platform magically makes that application open, as well. It doesn't.

I have zero concerns about Red Hat partnering with proprietary software companies like IBM: So long as customers use both proprietary and open-source solutions, we need to ensure interoperability between the two. My concern is with the positioning of that relationship. Let's call a spade a spade. Let's not call it "open."

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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