A couple of days ago I went out for drinks with a long-time employee of HP on our annual catch-up session. He's a wizened sort who’s very direct. We talked about Black Duck, our market development progress, and many other topics. I shared my perspective about HP in the open source space. He told me that HP will not do “an open source software business of any sort unless it produces $25 million in revenues after its first year.”
Wowzers! I told him that I thought that is very demanding criteria for an internal software business. He said that’s the HP way.
Obviously HP is investing heavily in open source development, especially considering the number of engineers in Fort Collins, Colorado who are contributing to the Linux kernel and many other OSS projects. This is not charity work, since HP does position itself as a supporter of open source (Red Hat is pre-installed; Ubuntu in the near future), and its services division does offer services utilizing open source projects. These are all revenue-generating activities.
But the most fascinating thing HP has done recently is considering jumping into the code analysis services game. Articles in CBR and C|Net clearly indicate that HP’s services arm is considering entering the market of enterprise code analysis for IP issues – albeit for a lofty price. IMHO this is great, great news. Its shows the maturity and attractiveness of the market, something we at Black Duck have known for quite some time.
But why is HP being so timid about open source? Why not step out and boldly announce to the world that they are committed to the open source business?
It used to be that HP was ballsy. Five years ago, Martin Fink, general manager for Hewlett-Packard's Linux Systems Division, wrote a very useful primer called The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, which you can still find for sale on HP's website. But since then the crickets have been chirping pretty loudly around 3000 Hanover Street in Palo Alto, and we have seen next to no leadership from HP in the open source area.
Come on guys. Step up!