Financial Fiasco or IT Debacle?

There’s been an additional fallout to all the recent news surrounding the collapse of Wall Street that I believe many have been missing. Besides being some of America’s oldest and most storied financial institutions, companies such as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch were also technological innovators in the world of IT, including open source.

Matt Asay commented the other day on Merrill Lynch, which has relied heavily on open source as a key enabler of its core business applications. But with its purchase by Bank of America, what will happen to all that great open source ingenuity? It’ll be interesting to see if Bank of America gives any of those contributions back to the community, which Merrill rarely did. And as Asay points out, does the purchase of open source projects by an outside party constitute distribution?

Merrill Lynch aside, Lehman Brothers’ CTO Hari Gopalkrishnan was highly regarded as one of the most innovative IT leaders within his respective industry. Lehman was one of the first to leverage grid computing, open source, and SOA to create a governance framework to manage real-time data distribution, access, and usage…in short, what the Gartner’s of the world have talked about but rarely seen executed in the real world.

As any vendor will testify to, the real innovation and advancement takes place not in Silicon Valley, but by the customers that implement and apply business applications in real-world scenarios. It would be a crime to see such work done in recent years fall to the wayside as a result of the credit crunch.

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