by Peter Galli on April 23, 2009 09:00am

A lot has been written by the press and blogosphere since the Linux Foundation's annual Collaboration Summit was held earlier this month, particularly about the panel that included Microsoft's Sam Ramji, Sun Microsystems' Ian Murdock, and Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin.

The panel was entitled "Why Can't We All Just Get Along," which struck me as not only divisive, but also a little outdated given the level of collaboration that already takes place between proprietary and open source software vendors alike.

For example, Microsoft and Sun already have a long-standing working collaborative relationship; Microsoft also has a technical collaboration agreement with Novell, an agreement with Red Hat to test and validate our respective server operating systems running on one another's hypervisors, and a number of arrangements in place with other open source companies.

The panel discussed this in greater depth, looking at how collaboration, cooperation and competition exist: not just between proprietary and open software vendors, but also between Linux and open source ones.

This prompted panel moderator Zemlin to suggest that the three make an even greater effort come together and collaborate where it makes sense.

Interestingly, the Summit also spurred renewed discussion about whether there need to be more critics in the Linux community, with one blogger taking Zemlin to task for what he described as the "tall claims" he made at the Summit.

Ramji, the Senior Director of Platform Strategy at Microsoft, also used the panel to remind the Linux and open source communities of his offer for them to reach out to him and others within Microsoft and share their frustrations, problems and issues, so that they could be better educators and advocates on this front across the company.

Ramji also, again, stressed that Microsoft's customers want interoperability with open source software, including for PHP on Windows, but that making this happen sometimes took time.

Sun's Murdock seconded this, talking about internal inertia and how Sun also had had to deal with hearing from customers and developers that they wanted interoperability with technologies other than their own.

At Microsoft, there are cross-group, company-wide open source discussions and initiatives underway, with each group given the autonomy to decide for itself how this plays out with regard to their product set and business model.

While Port 25's mission is to be the voice of the open source community at Microsoft, it is far from the only voice on this topic. There have been blogs across the company on open and interoperability initiatives, from groups including security, Live and the Mac Business Unit, to name just a few.

It is also important to remember that Ramji and other executives like Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's Server & Tools business, have often said that open source is a journey that Microsoft is on and that much more needs to still be done. Many groups across the company are already responding to that call.