I usually try very hard to not write about IBM. But the following from Matt Asay requires a reply.

Regardless, IBM isn’t in the habit of open sourcing technology in which it has a lead or at least a strong position, such as it does with DB2. IBM strategically invests in open source to undermine the margins of its competitors, not its own.

Really? Take a look into OSGi, SCA, Apache HTTP Server or the countless other open source projects that IBM has open sourced technology into. This technology didn’t undermine competitors; it helped customers and competitors alike (and let’s not forget that competitor contributions helped IBM).

Take OSGi for example; virtually every application server is going to be built on OSGi technology. We helped found the OSGi Alliance and contributed a significant amount of the code for various OSGi implementations since Release 1.

IBM did this because the open standard (OSGi in this case) delivered customer benefits. Like all standards, they’re only useful if they are widely supported. What better way to convince other vendors and competitors alike to support and contribute to a standard, than through the use of open source around an open community?

The attention that OSGi technology is generating today is helping to raise all boats, especially IBM WebSphere, the first application server built on OSGi technology over 2 years ago.

Was the move to open source OSGi technology strategic for IBM? Absolutely. Did it undermine competitors? Not that I know of (but hey, I don’t know everything).

IBM (and all smart vendors) strategically invests in open source. But strategic doesn’t have to mean “undermine competitors”.