Oracle’s “Mr. Linux” Moves to Microsoft: What It Means for the Channel
What’s Microsoft’s open source strategy? It’s still too early to answer that question fully, but the appointment of Wim Coekaerts, Oracle’s former Linux and open source lead, to a senior position at Microsoft says quite a bit.
Coekaerts is best known for turning Oracle into a company with a strong open source portfolio starting in the mid-1990s. As senior vice president of Linux and virtualization at Oracle, he helped launch the company’s enterprise Linux-based operating system, as well as its open source database products.
Coekaerts apparently joined Microsoft in March as corporate vice president of enterprise open source, but the news did not come to light until late last week.
As the first major executive appointment to help move Microsoft in an open source direction, Coekaerts’s addition to the company adds clarity to Microsoft’s other efforts to engage the open source ecosystem in recent months. Most notably, it suggests:
- A chief motivation for Microsoft in moving more boldly into the open source space is to compete with Oracle. That was the takeaway from the recent announcement of support for Microsoft SQL Server on GNU/Linux. Poaching an Oracle executive makes it even clearer that stealing open source market share from Oracle is a priority for Microsoft.
- Microsoft’s main focus remains on the open source cloud — as opposed to, say, the desktop or mobile devices. That’s why it has added new open source options to the Azure cloud. True, the company threw a bone to the GNU/Linux desktop community by releasing Windows Subsystem for Linux recently, but Microsoft’s only serious engagement with open source remains in the enterprise cloud — the area Coekaerts will oversee.
- Microsoft’s PR relating to open source is being carefully managed. It’s interesting that the company has made much of its new open source product announcements in recent months, yet it kept news of Coekaerts’s appointment quiet until the press discovered it on its own. That could mean lots of different things, but perhaps it’s a sign that Microsoft wants to keep its anti-Oracle campaign out of the spotlight — even though it is eager to draw attention to its open source announcements in general.
Have your own thoughts on what Coekaerts’s new job means for the open source channel? We’d love to hear them below.