Intel's Arun Gupta on open source pragmatism and fanatics

VP of the Open Ecosystem at chip biz talks trust in the era of AI

Interview Intel veep Arun Gupta is taking a pragmatic approach to open source and how contributing companies can keep the lights on.

"I've been around for decades now," he tells The Register at KubeCon in Chicago. "I'm not an open source fanatic; I'm an open source pragmatist. I completely understand that you have to build a business model around it.

"You can't ride the wave to a certain point in time and say, 'So now we're going to switch from the open source license that has served us well, thank you very much.'

"That, to me, is breaking the trust."

Warming to his theme, Gupta continues: "My point is: if you're going to change the license and your business strategy, how are you going to serve your customers? Are you going to break that trust? Or are you going to hand-hold them and say, 'This is how we're going to take you forward'?"

The open source world is undoubtedly at an inflection point as companies consider how to move forward and remain financially viable. Publishing code for all and sundry is noble, yet some clearly think there must be a solid business case behind it.

Gupta, who is currently Vice President and General Manager for Open Ecosystem at Intel, as well as occupying positions in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the Linux Foundation, and was recently appointed as chairperson of the OpenSSF, is well placed to opine on such matters.

He also has more than 10 years at Sun, nearly four years at Oracle, as well as positions at Red Hat and AWS under his belt.

Gupta is slightly critical of Sun, where he spent years as a Java evangelist. Despite the company's determination to grow Java, he notes: "I would say no one ever had a business plan."

"We gave away everything."

Oracle infamously acquired Sun in 2010, and after praising the continued popularity of Java, Gupta says: "You can't do open source on the fringes; you can't make money out of it, and it's not sustainable.

"This was happening even during my time at Red Hat. They were discussing about giving away too much."

Gupta's time at Red Hat concluded in 2015. This year, the IBM division caused controversy - and the creation of the Open Enterprise Linux Association - by restricting access to the source of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Looking to the future, Gupta has thoughts on the technology of the day: generative AI, which he reckons will fundamentally change how open source is understood.

He says: "Open source is very clearly defined by the four degrees of freedom, and that's what it stands for. Now, what is changing with AI is that definition is not really relevant anymore. Because the source is just one element of AI."

Gupta lists other key components of generative AI systems, including the model, the training, etc. "So how does that work? So the definition is going to need to be updated."

As chair of the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), Gupta is unsurprisingly focused on open source security. He says: "One of the biggest challenges for us is security… and the charter of OpenSSF is how do we make things secure.

"So we are really looking at how to bring all these people together and be more cohesive. Personally, I thrive on the diversity of views. We went through a massive leadership change in OpenSSF, and I'm really enjoying working with the new leadership…"

However, Gupta admits that OpenSSF needs to become more recognized: "How do we tell more people working with open source security? How do we collaborate? How do we partner? How do we become strong allies?"

Answers on a postcard dear readers, or better still, just use the comments section below. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like