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An Interview with Dirk Hohndel, VMware’s New Chief Open Source Officer

4 Oct 2016 10:51am, by

“You will not be able to make everyone happy,” explained Dirk Hohndel, just a few months into his appointment as VMware’s chief open source officer.  “And my goal is not to make everyone happy. My goal is to find the projects where there is agreement to be found, to make things better for them, for us, for the customers.”

160831-dirk-hohndelIn this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, Hohndel discussed the tight-wire act that anyone must perform when serving as the public face for open source development for a company that tightly guards and protects its intellectual property.

When the containerization “movement” (such as they are in technology circles) first began, Docker Inc., along with a handful of other companies in Docker’s orbital vicinity, set forth to carry a kind of software-based infrastructure revolution. The objective of this revolution is to overturn the traditional IT infrastructure layer, upon which VMware has gained a substantial foothold over the past decade.

Yet, After only a short period of fighting back, VMware adopted the mantle of the movement itself. And at VMworld 2016 in late August, where we interviewed Hohndel for this podcast, it was assembling the components and the business strategy with the aim to actually take over the lead of the entire movement.

In short, VMware wants to pivot before the revolution hits it.

Hohndel’s reputation in the open source community was already legendary before he joined VMware. He was the long-time chief technology officer of the original SuSE Linux AG organization and later headed open source efforts at Intel for 15 years. Now, he finds himself the point man for perhaps the most important effort VMware has thus far undertaken: selling the idea of vSphere integration to a development community that still, for the most part, perceives proprietary platforms as the enemy.

Listen now to the interview with Dirk Hohndel, produced by Alex Williams, Kiran Oliver, Luke Lefler, and Scott Fulton:

Docker is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature image: A bronze statue of Constantine the Great in York Minster, UK, by Gernot Keller, licensed under CC-BY 3.0.


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