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Red Hat is all about collaboration. Together with community and partners we have transformed industries and continue to create amazing technology. We are fully convinced that the “force multiplier” of cooperation vastly exceeds the capabilities of individual proprietary companies.
 
Occasionally we get asked “Why isn’t Red Hat involved with this particular foundation or consortium?” Hopefully this blog will help demystify our approach.
 
Open source collaboration is accomplished in many different ways. Red Hat fundamentally believes that collaboration happens between those with common vision, goals and a desire to contribute towards a greater outcome. Working together can be achieved with or without a foundation. There is no “one size fits all” approach in open source. Some projects (even large ones like the Linux kernel) are not heavily governed / driven by foundations. In the case of the Linux kernel, it is mainly a tight hierarchy of developers who are self-managed. The Linux Foundation does provide broader facilitation, but the point is that foundations and consortium are not strictly required. Yet other projects, such as Apache and the OpenStack Foundation are effectively governed by foundations with the main purpose of fostering software development. The foundations mentioned in this paragraph are examples of the types of foundations Red Hat tends to be active in - those whose fundamental purpose is to advance open source development.
 
Some foundations and consortium, however, have primary objectives that are not focused on open source development. Other example motivations include:
  • Marketing - announce intent of companies to work together
  • Interoperability - to declare common approaches or describing how products may fit together
 
Red Hat usually doesn’t join marketing focused consortium, primarily because we focus on the “walk the walk”, “show me the code” type of collaboration. When we do join this type it is because we have high confidence that substance will be forthcoming by the participants.
 
Red Hat does join numerous interoperability consortium when their objective is focused on open source software. In contrast, many interoperability consortium are focused on shared interfaces between proprietary companies. We view the proprietary type as more of a defensive lockout motivation rather than an inclusive, collaborative approach. Consequently, Red Hat tends not to join this type of foundation.
 
Lastly, there’s a practical matter of finite time and resources. Red Hat only gets involved when we feel that we can make a substantial community contribution and when the foundation approach is deemed truly necessary to advocate collaboration. If we joined everything, our involvement would become uselessly diluted. Sometimes the best way to foster collaboration is to invest in the development and contribute to the code, there is a trade-off between investing in the foundation and hiring more developers.
 
So in short, the answer to “Why doesn’t Red Hat join everything?” is “it depends”.That’s not a simple answer, but if it were easy, it wouldn’t be so much fun.
 
See you in the community!

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