AFTER THE NEWS broke yesterday that Microsoft has snapped up code repository GitHub for $7.5bn, the response has varied from anger to excitement, to questioning what the heck Microsoft (and indeed GitHub) are playing at.
There are a number of possible reasons, but there's no doubt that under Satya Nadella, the company's attitude to open source has changed.
Patrick Carey of security firm Black Duck by Synopsys is one of many security firms who have spoken out in favour of the move.
"This is tremendously good news for open source, and perhaps the single most significant validation conceivable that open source IS the mainstream for software development.
"Microsoft has always been focused on the needs of the developer and this acquisition is consistent with that focus. It may seem remarkable that Microsoft, once considered the arch-enemy of both Linux and open source, would acquire GitHub, perhaps the most prominent piece of open source infrastructure today, but it shows just how much Satya Nadella has changed the game at Microsoft."
A survey from CAST software found that open source scored 93 per cent for meeting security compliance, whereas industry scored 86 per cent. This in spite of a recent borkage involving plain text passwords.
Said Ouissal, CEO of Zededa sees it as part of the Microsoft devotion to cloud-first: "The GitHub acquisition by Microsoft is the clearest signal yet of the importance of the cloud-native edge. As cloud developers, over 28 million of which use GitHub according to Microsoft's release, shift their focus toward taking advantage of IoT data in real-time at the 'intelligent edge', they need an on-ramp to the edge - a platform that allows the embedded systems of the world operate like the cloud."
Diego Lo Giudice of analyst house Forrester, however, questions, much as we did, if Microsoft has gone too far to start embracing this brave new world now.
"With the acquisition of GitHub, Microsoft, more importantly, doubles down on the open source community adding to its already large acquired community with LinkedIn. Satya seems very serious in moving Microsoft more and more towards open source...but will the open source community trust him?" he said.
Rafael Laguna, CEO at Open-Xchange, hares the concerns that we have about what happens to GitHub after Nadella. Although he cites possible redemption for the company - even so far as that it could become an open-source company "eventually".
"Microsoft was essentially at war with open source just twenty and ten years ago - with former CEO Steve Ballmer alleging that Linux violated 235 of its patents and continually referring to Linux as "cancer". It doesn't surprise me that GitHub users are currently uneasy with this acquisition," Laguna said.
"After all, the world's largest open source repository is now following in the footsteps of Nokia and Skype, who have both become infinitely less popular and innovative since being acquired by Microsoft. Also, Microsoft seems to be competing with everyone on GitHub, which doesn't ease the pain it creates with the acquisition. Microsoft has a history of being a very bad partner.
"Supposedly, this acquisition is part of a Microsoft's growing focus on open source - but, it also enables the company to kill GitHub if Microsoft's business model or CEO changes in future."
But what about the developers? Opinions vary, but with rival service GitLab (who actually sent a congratulatory Tweet to GitHub) seeing a ten-fold rise in codebases being transferred over from GitHub on Monday, it does seem that some knee-jerk reaction has not been favourable.
Others point out that it could be worse:
If Oracle bought GitHub it would have been terrible... pic.twitter.com/QhtBHHdYVl— Ben Adams (@ben_a_adams) June 5, 2018
Whilst Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge sees it as a positive thing, though we're not sure if the "small unknown" bit is meant to be ironic:
Can't see what's wrong with Microsoft acquiring a small unknown like GitHub. Microsoft has acquired many small unknowns and turned them into big industry leaders in just a few years: just look at the Nokia brand mobile phones, or the game Minecraft, or >>— Rick Falkvinge (@Falkvinge) June 5, 2018
Then there are those who think it's all doomed, based on previous experience:
But whichever side of the fence you sit on, we'll leave the last word (for now) to incoming CEO Nat Freidman. He holds no illusions as to what people may think of him, Microsoft, and the deal in genera.
"I'm not asking for your trust, but I'm committed to earning it. I can't wait to help make the GitHub platform and community that's special to all of us even greater", he said.
Can't say fairer than that really. For now, anyway. µ
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