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John Mertic on the Open-Source Renaissance

By | August 12, 2020

Published on August 8, 2020, by IBM Systems Magazine.

Reg Harbeck talks with John Mertic about the history, future role, and community impact of open-source technology.

Reg Harbeck: Hi. I’m Reg Harbeck and today I’m here with John Mertic, who is the head of the Open Mainframe Project or Foundation?

John Mertic: Project.

Reg: Okay, and I guess maybe part of it as I ask you to introduce yourself and tell us how you ended up in such a position. I know your background technology and such. Also, explain the difference to us the difference it being a project or a foundation or just what the nature of it is. So, John, tell us about yourself in your role.

John: Sure, so my role is to help support, facilitate, and be a part of the driving of success of the Open Mainframe Project. You know, my career has been one that has really started in the software engineering realm. I was a software developer for many, many years but also at the same time I was starting to spend a lot of time in open-source communities and I really was drawn to the dynamics and the people and really the great innovation that was happening in them. I really started pivoting a lot of my career to spending more time within there from being a contributor in that space to helping be a leader in that space while at the same time helping build a lot of my acumen around partner relationships, ISV management, and business development. Which kind of all came together in my role at the Linux® Foundation, which I came on board with just under five years ago helping lead a number of our open-source initiatives and in particular the Open Mainframe Project which is, since it’s a collaborative effort in one of the well over 300 different projects that we host here at the Linux Foundation. Our projects are of all various natures from very small unfunded collaborative efforts to huge large scale ones like the Linux kernel and Kubernetes and Node.js and even more vertically focused ones in the energy, motion picture industry, automotive industry, so on and so forth there, so it’s a real, real mixed bag of stuff we have. A lot of our role—we sometimes joke about calling ourselves the janitors of open source, but I think really what it comes down to is we’re here to help our communities be successful. They know the technology area. They’re subject matter experts. They’re really great at a lot of those pieces. We come and help fill in those gaps and add that extra support and services that you don’t think about needing an open-source project needing to be successful but it’s really, really a key piece of it, so things like ecosystem development, things like events, things like legal and governance, things like finance in a lot of cases. All of these pieces and more are just really crucial to a community operating, especially one in a vendor-neutral capacity and that’s really what we’re here to do. We’re here to do that. We’re here to serve our communities. We’re here to ensure that they have the tools to be successful and we’re here to facilitate that along with the ways and in a lot of ways, we try to teach communities to fish VS be the fishermen for them.

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