HP, EDS, and Open Source

by Ostatic Staff - May. 13, 2008

HP seems to have a liking for big deals - remember when they spent $25 billion for Compaq? Now they're laying out almost $14 billion to acquire global services company EDS. When elephants go dancing together, the rest of us need to be cautious.

Whatever HP intends to get out of this deal (our parent site GigaOm interprets it as an investment in a cloud future), we look at it from a different point of view: what does it mean to open source?

Like most large companies, both HP and EDS have dabbled in open source. HP actually has a well-organized presentation of its open source efforts available. These include:

  • Substantial sales (over $10 billion to date) of Linux servers
  • Over a thousand supported open-source printer drivers
  • Indemnification for customers against legal action by SCO
  • Common criteria security certification for a variety of hardware/software Linux combos
  • A variety of support offerings

EDS, by contrast, has much less invested in open source than HP. While mentions of open source do turn up from time to time in the EDS blogs, the company has no page on its site listing open source offerings. And in the past, EDS executives have been notably unfriendly to Linux. And no wonder: Microsoft is a part of the group of select partners in the EDS Agility Alliance, participating in major EDS deals and supplying the standard platform for many of EDS' efforts.While EDS is obviously familiar with open source, it seems to be more interested in steering its customers to closed source "enterprisey" products.

In the short run, this will be like any other big merger: existing open source and commercial offerings will remain much as they are now. Over the long run, much will depend on how independent EDS, operating as "EDS - an HP company", is from the rest of the corporation. Clearly they'll start selling HP servers into their accounts. But the result of the inevitable culture wars inside the company will determine the operating system on those servers. With HP apparently buying EDS to bring an existing line of money-making business into the mix, we hope we'll see HP shipping more Linux - but fear the result will be more Windows instead.

What do you think the HP/EDS deal means for open source?