Brian Behlendorf: Apache co-founder talks about open source

By Ashlee Vance, IDG News Service |  Development

The open-source model for software development has plenty of supporters and critics alike. Brian Behlendorf, co-founder and president of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), certainly stands out as one of the open-source community's biggest supporters and one who has long believed that collaborative work on free software will pave a solid path for the future.

Behlendorf, however, butts heads time and time again with opponents at companies such as software giant Microsoft. Even with companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM making large open-source efforts, the market clout of proprietary, commercial software vendors causes doubts to arise as to how successful the open-source movement can be.

The ASF developed the Apache Server, which according to Behlendorf sits on 60 percent of the world's Web servers and stands as one of the most successful open-source projects to date. Apache's strength in the Web server arena overshadows the Linux operating system's lethargic move to widespread desktop use. Many critics say that Linux will still struggle for some time, lending credence to the notion that open-source code belongs in the back-end with the developers.

Ashlee Vance, a San Francisco correspondent for the IDG News Service (IDGNS), an InfoWorld affiliate, caught up with Behlendorf at Comdex last week to discuss some of these issues and to find out where Behlendorf thinks the future of the open-source model lies.

IDGNS: Is there any resentment from some parties in tie open-source community when large corporations and players late to the open-source game begin affecting the technology?

Behlendorf: Certainly within every one of these big companies that has been involved there have been differences of opinion as to whether it is the right thing to do or not. I had a lot of experience going to companies like IBM and Sun and seeing all of the political debates that go on when they consider going open source. What's interesting is that you usually have the people at the top, the business leaders, and the developers usually in more of an agreement.

It is really the middle layer of management that is most concerned. They are the ones in charge of profitability and making their margins and making sales. They are the ones who aren't really empowered to change a company's business model to accept a different type of revenue stream, moving from selling bits on a CD to selling a support kind of thing. They are the ones who tend to resist the most.

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