The Stack Archive Opinion

What the IT world thinks of GitHub’s acquisition

Tue 5 Jun 2018


GitHub was bought yesterday by Microsoft for the princely sum of $7.5 billion. GitHub is, to many, representative of all that is great about the world of open source development. It embraces collaboration and helps people create some pretty amazing things.

Its acquisition by one of tech’s leviathans is, therefore, going to raise some eyebrows and pulses (and bank accounts, but that’s a different matter). The Stack decided to take the temperature of the IT world and find out if they’re happy, or hating.

GitHub views

Mark Collier, OpenStack Foundation COO says Microsoft would be wise to retain the status quo at GitHub

“I don’t think it will make things less open. Github was already a proprietary, for-profit service backed by venture capital. Having Microsoft as the new owner isn’t likely to make that service “less open” in my view. If that happens, you’ll see a mass exodus, which Microsoft certainly won’t want.

“People might look into other services, like BitBucket. Whenever any popular service is acquired, that’s a key part of a software developers toolchain, it’s kind of a wake-up call and people start looking around at alternatives.

“We’re already seeing signs that people are moving code to other commercial services like gitlab or BitBucket, and within the OpenStack community, we host our own git servers at git.openstack.org which other projects are starting to use, too. So there are certainly both commercial and community operated options out there that developers are exploring, which is healthy.

“There’s no doubt that Microsoft is much savvier and practical about open source than it used to be. I’m optimistic that the trend will continue.”

Abby Kearns, Cloud Foundry Foundation’s Executive Director is all for it:

“Is Microsoft acquiring GitHub a good thing? Absolutely. Microsoft continues to show that open source is critical to the future of their business. I believe they will be a good steward of GitHub and ensure the network effect that makes the technology so valuable to developers in general, and open source communities like Cloud Foundry, in particular – remains.”

Rafael Laguna, Open-Xchange CEO thinks it depends on Satya Nadella remaining at the helm:

“Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub could one of go two ways. On the one hand, it’s great that Microsoft is investing heavily in open source. Until now, its business model has relied on siloed ‘walled gardens’, which has created one of the biggest barriers to a truly federated internet. But this acquisition could change things.

“Since becoming CEO in 2014, Satya Nadella has formed a number of partnerships with Linux and has steered Microsoft towards a more “open” direction – recently partnering with Red Hat to enable OpenShift to run on Azure, or the acquisition of Xamarin, this latest news is yet another sign that Microsoft is becoming more and more receptive to open source. By acquiring this capability, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that Microsoft is becoming an open source company eventually.

“On the other hand, Microsoft was essentially at war with open source just ten years ago – with former CEO Steve Ballmer alleging that Linux violated 235 of its patents and continually referring to Linux as “cancer”. It doesn’t surprise me that GitHub users are currently uneasy with this acquisition. After all, the world’s largest open source repository is now following in the footsteps of Nokia and Skype, who have both become infinitely less popular and innovative since being acquired by Microsoft. Also, Microsoft seems to be competing with everyone on GitHub, which doesn’t ease the pain it creates with the acquisition. Microsoft has a history of being a very bad partner. Supposedly, this acquisition is part of a Microsoft’s growing focus on open source – but, it also enables the company to kill GitHub if Microsoft’s business model or CEO changes in future.”

Setu Kulkarni, WhiteHat Security Vice President calls it a visionary decision:

“Microsoft’s purchase of GitHub is a visionary acquisition that can further extend their cloud-native design-develop-run ecosystem play. With GitHub and subsequent integrations with the breadth of the Microsoft stack, Microsoft hopes to gain wider adoption across the developer community and enterprises alike.

“Development teams are tasked more than ever to keep content secure as the market adjusts to continuous shifts. As enterprises and the development community at large move to cloud-native ecosystems, they need to actively account for security.”

Bob Davis, Plutora CMO believes this is just the start:

“The Microsoft acquisition of GitHub isn’t surprising and I believe will be one of many in the space over the next 12 months, especially as development environments in the cloud continue to be a strategic focus for many. Acquisitions are a sign of market maturity and underlines that there is a real need for services that support enterprise DevOps adoption and development tools.

“It sends a message about the importance of technology that enables enterprises to manage their DevOps infrastructure and the need for tools that provide a system of record. This type of service will become even more vital to success as development cycles speed up and environments continue to grow.”

Udi Nachmany, Cloud 66 VP says this proves developers are the cream of the crop:

“The news of Microsoft acquiring GitHub is strong market validation that the best tools for developers are the ones built by developers. GitHub managed to add significant value on top of open source, which seems to be an emerging and winning model that we also follow.

“Microsoft will now own large parts of the software delivery chain: GitHub (source control), Visual Studio (IDE), Azure and Azure Stack (compute), package management (Helm), and more. Given Microsoft’s increased activity around Kubernetes, CI and container delivery seem to be gaps in that story—this is a great opportunity for providers of complementary tools.”

Steve Moore, Exabeam chief security strategist argues it’s a smart move from Nadella:

“I think it’s very shrewd. If you look at the information that they’re going to have access to, in the developer community, I think it’s phenomenal. For me, it came out of left-field – if you look at the acquisitions that Microsoft has traditionally made, this one is certainly more of a community effort. I think Microsoft will add a lot to it. They have the resources – the branding and the ecosystem will help. Hopefully, they keep the spirit of GitHub, with the resources of Microsoft.”

Julian Osman, Red Badger’s technical director challenges ‘GitHub grief’:

“Within the development community, the default, knee-jerk reaction to Microsoft’s announcement of the acquisition of GitHub seemed to be anger, but why? Was it the internal Microsoft slogan of “Embrace, extend, and extinguish”, where they would take open, widely used standards, extend them with proprietary capabilities and then use them to lock in people to the Microsoft way?

“Was it the drive to have developers run a full Microsoft stack deployed by Microsoft tools, plugging Microsoft components together, whilst crippling or not supporting external technologies? Would this happen to GitHub – proprietary extensions and a closed ecosystem that would lock people in, or even worse lock people out?

“But the question needs to be asked – when was the last time Microsoft actually exhibited these practices? After having avoided the Microsoft ecosystem for well over a decade, it was time that I re-evaluate them using some more up-to-date data. Microsoft is now far more open than when the EEE practice was around.  They release code on GitHub (over 1800 repositories and counting), some of which we actually like to use, like VSCode and TypeScript.

“They now support non-Microsoft tools such as Kubernetes and terraform on their Azure platform. Perhaps this is the road to acceptance.  Acceptance that Microsoft does indeed support open standards, and does want developers to use the best tools for the job, be it Microsoft based, or otherwise. They certainly have been heading in the right direction, and should they do a u-turn, there is always BitBucket or GitLab.”

Patrick McFadin, DataStax VP says we’re fortunate GitHub is so open:

“The acquisition of Github by Microsoft is continuing the trend of provider consolidation and questions about who has access to your most precious resources.  We’ve already heard questions about trusting your data to companies that overnight, become competitors in your vertical. Now we are being asked to trust our code and intellectual property in a similar arrangement.

“Fortunately, Github is an open standard and every organization can make a choice on what provider they choose to use. Open Source projects will continue to the code hosting platform that works for their community. Apache software is still all housed on Apache Software Foundation servers and simply mirrored on GitHub.”

We’ll keep updating this as we get more views. What do you think? It’s got everyone talking – have your say. 


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