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Open source? HP Enterprise will be all-in, post split, says CTO

It's in 'the fabric of everything we do,' exec says

HP CTO Martin Fink
HP CTO Martin Fink talked community-developed code at HP Discover 2015

HP Discover What's the latest enterprise IT company to proclaim its love of open source? HP, that's who – or, more specifically, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of two companies that will emerge once HP splits this November.

Speaking at the HP Discover conference in Las Vegas this week, CTO Martin Fink said open source will be central to how HP's enterprise incarnation conducts its business.

"We have taken this very, very seriously and we are all-in on the notion of open source," Fink said, adding that even game-changing big bets like the Machine will be backed by open source software.

Not that using open source is new for HP, he observed. Behind the scenes, the Palo Alto firm has been a major contributor to a number of open source projects, particularly those that are relevant to its core mission of helping customers build and grow their IT infrastructure.

"We are the Number One contributor to the OpenStack project," Fink said. "We contribute large bodies of code to the Cloud Foundry project. We are heavily involved with partners who lead open source projects – like Hortonworks, for example. We are contributing heavily to making the cloud open source and making that real for you."

Going forward, however, Hewlett Packard Enterprise will be more vocal about how it takes advantage of existing open source projects and will be more proactive about contributing code of its own.

To prove it, on Wednesday HP announced Grommet, a new user interface framework that's specifically tailored for enterprise applications and that HP has released under the Apache License.

"I want to stress something here: It is not called HP Grommet. It is called Grommet," Fink said. "It is HP's contribution to the IT industry to bring consumer-grade capabilities with an enterprise user experience framework so that all of you can take advantage of it."

The genesis of Grommet, Fink said, was when customers would complain that various HP products wouldn't integrate well with each other, because their UIs were so radically different.

"Simple things like the search bar doesn't work the same way, or one thing takes a thousand clicks and the other thing takes four clicks," he explained.

To address this problem, HP took UI code from certain of its products, including the HP OneView IT management software, and packaged it into a reusable library in the form of Grommet. Simultaneously, it published a formal style guide to help developers build applications with consistent UIs.

All Hewlett Packard Enterprise software will ship with UIs based on Grommet from now on, Fink said. Moreover, HP developers are encouraged to expand and improve the framework – as is anyone outside HP who uses the open source code.

"If there's any kind of functionality that's missing, build it in. This is how we are building our products, going forward," Fink said.

He added that his own experience with open source dates back to 1997, when he asked a team of four developers to port Linux to HP's proprietary PA-RISC architecture.

"That was a breakthrough paradigm, a breakthrough concept," Fink said. "And that is now mainstream for us and it's part of the fabric of everything we do." ®

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