Fujitsu has been in the enterprise business for a very long time. The company works very closely with the Linux players such as SUSE and Red Hat, and the relationship between Japanese Fujitsu and German SUSE is more than a decade old.
Back in the early days, Fujitsu had a huge project to migrate mission-critical applications away from Sun Solaris UNIX systems to Linux systems. The company chose SUSE Linux Enterprise and has been working with them ever since. However, although SUSE has been a champion of open source and despite this close relationship, Fujitsu has always been very much a proprietary company. That’s changing now.
Recently, the company announced its first open source project, called Open Service Catalog Manager, which is cloud management software created by Fujitsu. The software was internally developed by Fujitsu and has been on the market for a while. Wolfgang Ries, Chief Marketing OfficerFujitsu Enabling Software Technology, told me that it can be used in both enterprise and service provider scenarios.
In an enterprise scenario, it’s more like an internal single offering, which can be used in any “software as a service” (SaaS) scenario. In a service provider case, it’s mainly about a self-service booking portal that can be used by companies that sell SaaS to a wider market. The catalog will enable their customers to provision their machines as they want.
The beauty of the software is that it is not limited to one stack. Ries said it can be integrated with all leading “as a service” providers, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Fujitsu’s own Trusted Public S5, and VMWare. The most important aspect of the catalog is that it is OpenStack certified.
The project is being released under Apache License, and Fujitsu is currently hosting it. Interested DevOps teams can check out the official site. The company is not, however, planning to keep it to themselves. They are planning to donate it to some open source organization, and they had two options: 1) The OpenStack foundation and 2) The Linux Foundation.
The decision was not hard. Although the catalog is OpenStack certified, it goes beyond OpenStack and supports many other IaaS platforms. Giving it to the OpenStack Foundation meant limiting its scope.
On the other hand, the Linux Foundation has become a huge umbrella that hosts different projects that have a much wider and broader appeal. So, Fujitsu decided to donate the software to the Linux Foundation. Ries said that the negotiations with the Linux Foundation are not completed yet, but the talks are progressing well.
It's Not Altruism; It's Business
The company didn’t release the software as open source out of altruism; there were practical reasons for doing so. Ries admitted that license revenues from the software were relatively small compared with the integration and consulting revenues that can be achieved with the software. Keeping the software proprietary wasn’t making Fujitsu a lot of money, and releasing it as an open source wouldn't harm revenues. On the contrary, based on customer feedback, Fujistu realized that the software could innovate and develop much faster with community participation.
During his keynote at SUSECon 2015, Chiseki Sagawa (Corporate Vice President, Head of Global Software Center, Fujitsu) noted that the market dynamics are changing. He said that the speed of innovation is so fast that no one company can keep up with this pace, so they need open source collaboration. He added that customers’ dependence on IT infrastructure is increasing and they need to make sure that there’s no vendor lock-in.
“Open source is the answer for us,” Sagawa said. The project has so far enjoyed decent visibility, even if the marketing of the project has not gone full force. And, things will get only better once the project moves to the Linux Foundation and receives all the limelight that LF projects enjoy.
This move by Fujitsu is a very strong signal for traditional proprietary companies. You can't do all the work by yourself and still stay ahead of the competition. If you want to keep up, go open source.