IBM VP of ‘opentech’ on the open road ahead

The Computer Weekly Open Source Insider team speaks to Todd M Moore in his role as IBM VP ‘opentech’ & developer advocacy (and) CTO for developer ecosystems following the Open Source Summit Europe in Lyon.

Moore and his team of open source developers work with open source communities such as the Apache Software Foundation, Linux Foundation, eClipse, OSGi, OpenStack, Cloud Foundry, Docker, JS, Node.js and more.

He currently serves as chairperson of both the Open.js Foundation board of directors and the CNCF Governing Board.

Computer Weekly: What did you cover during your keynote?
My keynote in Lyon focused on topical areas in AI. There is so much to be done to both build trust in AI solutions and to secure them. Working in the LFAI organisation, we see the perfect opportunity to bring together the major participants to work on these issues for the good of the community at large.

In AI ‘explain-ability’ alone, there will be an explosion of algorithms and statistical analysis necessary to build a solid base. We have only scratched the surface so far. I also touched on the trends in open source AI projects and the projects to watch and the role of data governance.

Computer Weekly: Why is this topic so relevant right now?

Moore: The adoption of AI technology is a worldwide phenomenon. Studies show that the adoption of open technologies by industry participants goes hand in hand with becoming industry leaders.  This is also the case with AI and it has reached the point of touching our every day lives through machine learning, image recognition, translation, speech recognition, autonomous driving, assisted decision making, etc.

This change is driven by the availability of data and substantially improved access to computational processing power. Both classical computers and those with ‘GPU assists’ are now available to substantially reduce model build, debug and tuning. Software technologies to help developers and data scientists in the end-to-end development and lifecycle of models are now appearing with some strong options forming in open source. No industry or government office will go untouched by the technologies that are in development.

Computer Weekly: What is your perspective on the growth and maturity of open source software — and, how can we sustain projects and developers for decades to come?

Moore: As I have said, many options are starting to become available to developers in this area. Open source has become the way to de facto standardisation and pave the way towards rapid marketplace adoption. It preserves freedom of action for clients seeking to prevent vendor lock-in and it opens the door to rapid development and marketplace growth. Products today are based in open source, and gone are the days when a single developer or vendor can out innovate the rest of the world by themselves.

Open source yields great software that developers can depend on.  Look at the rise of containers and the rapid adoption of Linux or Kubernetes as cases in point of what happens when the world comes behind a technology.

Sustainability comes from mass adoption and the willingness of developers to commit themselves to a project. We have proven that widespread adoption fuels continuing interest and that corporations will commit resources to develop and maintain a strategic code base for decades. We need to protect against developer burnout and constantly be looking to aid in the tasks that are not glamorous such as documentation, CI/CD, code reviews etc.

Computer Weekly: What is lighting you up right now? What has your attention and is making you excited about your work?

Moore: There is always something exciting. Right now it is the mix of cloud native development, with AI complete life-cycle management that has my interest.  But, I am also passionate about the role that I see for Java and Node.js development in cloud native development. These are the two most used languages and the Eclipse Foundation will play a pivotal role in cloud native Java with projects such as Quarkus, microprofile and che and the OpenJS Foundation will do the same for all things JavaScript. I’m having a great time working at the intersection of all these technologies because the possibilities are limitless.


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