IBM chief Ginni Rometty wants developers to give back more to open source

IBM chief Ginni Rometty wants developers to give back more to open source
Ginni Rometty

Ginni Rometty, chair, president and chief executive of IBM, has urged the users of open source to give back to the software in order to fuel its future growth. 

She added that open source was an integral part of all types of tech and the phrase was ubiquitous with big data today. 

“India is home to more than four million developers and counting, and the country will rewrite how the world codes,” she said. 

Rometty gave a keynote address to an audience of Indian developers at the ‘IBM India Developer Champions’ event in Bengaluru.  

The keynote was Rometty’s third event for IBM during her week-long India visit. She earlier announced strategic collaborations, where IBM will train over 200,000 women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. She also spoke about the digital transformation of companies at IBM’s Think Leadership forum held in Mumbai.

For the keynote, Rometty also talked about three principles that IBM strongly believes will take open source forward—giving back to open source, promoting open governance, and creating a wider ecosystem to apply and benefit from these technologies. 

“Being a strong supporter of open source platforms, if you have to take something out and use it, you have to give it back,” she iterated. 

IBM first starting supporting open governance 20 years ago, when it funded the Linux Foundation, a tech consortium founded in 2000 as a merger between Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group. The aim of the foundation was to standardise Linux and to create partnerships for open source software projects.

“It was at that time that we made a billion dollar donation to the Linux Foundation to build open source tech. Till then, we have always worked on how we can get open source into the enterprise,” she said. 

In 2000, IBM had pumped in $1 billion into Linux, which was a novice operating system at the time, along with a dedicated team of over 1,500 engineers. Today, Linux is used in all of the top 500 supercomputers of the world.

“Hopefully with IBM, we will be able to scale it (open source) wider across all platforms,” the CEO said.

She also stated that the software’s portability and capacity to run and code anywhere makes it important in the world of hybrid cloud.

Making a stronger case for Linux, Rometty pointed out that thousands of IBMers still contribute to open source and one significant OS platform to emerge out of the Linux Foundation is Hyperledgers, which is seeing a lot of traction as a blockchain OS software. 

“IBM was one of the first to get going with Hyperledgers, which is currently the fastest growing project within the Linux Foundation,” she said.

Rometty also emphasised the significance of open governance and the need for diverse sponsorship to further develop it and the open source environment further.

“As developers, if there is open governance, the software can be run on multiple platforms, otherwise open source would almost be proprietary,” she stated.

Rometty delivered her keynote address after stating that India, like other countries, has many jobs but lacks the talent for those jobs.

“In India, you have the same issues. Open jobs, (but) no matching skillsets,” she was quoted as saying by several media reports.