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New Hewlett Packard Enterprise division will fully embrace open source

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June 5, 2015

Newly to-be-formed-soon Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of two companies that will emerge once HP splits itself in into two parts this November said that it will embrace open source with open arms.

Speaking at the HP Discover conference in Las Vegas this week, CTO Martin Fink said open source will be central to how HP's new enterprise division will conduct its business from now on.

"We have taken this approach very seriously and we are all-in on the notion of open source," Fink said, adding that even game-changing 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 IT company has been a major contributor to a number of open source projects in the past, particularly those that are relevant to its core mission of helping enterprise customers build and grow their IT infrastructure, he added.

"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 also heavily involved with industry 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."

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

And 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's not called HP Grommet. It is just called Grommet," Fink pointed out to the audience. "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 and in a big way."

Fink added that the genesis of Grommet is 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 just three to four clicks," he explained.

To address this issue, HP took user interface 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 user interfaces 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 will probably tell you.

"If there's a chance that there's any kind of functionality that's missing at all, we build it in. This is how we are designing and integrating our products together, going forward," Fink added.

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

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

Source: HP.

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