The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Jim Whitehurst sent some non-geek people to their dictionaries Tuesday when he talked about “componentization” as triggering the next way of innovation in software.

For those who are perhaps still puzzled – or downright flumoxed – by the term, here’s how IBM describes the term at TermWiki:

“A re-engineering and transformation of the SWG [standard working group] development model. This transformation is a key part of the IBM On Demand strategy. Its fundamental goals are to make our software business more responsive to customer demands, and to improve development efficiency and effectiveness.

“Specifically, software componentization is the movement of IBM software development from a monolithic, product-oriented development model to one based on the concept of software offerings composed from the sharing of reusable software components.”

To help enterprises embrace the concept of breaking apart and reusing tools as afforded by an open source solution, Red Hat on Tuesday announced a new consulting service called “Red Hat Pathway.” It’s designed to:

  • “Introduce open source concepts and examine different open source approaches and opportunities that can address the organization’s desired level of maturity;
  • “Assess current processes, infrastructure, and capabilities to determine readiness to accept and scale open source;
  • “Measure baseline open source competency in areas of governance, community participation, and senior leadership support;
  • “Develop a strategic open source blueprint that details open source maturity analysis as well as delivers actionable recommendations for governance and policy, community planning, tools and training, and additional IT efficiency.”

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is positioning itself at the forefront of the componentization model, as is the open source Linux operating system community, its chief executive officer explained in delivering the opening keynote for the Hatters’ annual Summit in Boston.

“One of the key reasons is we’re finally seeing componentization happening,” Whitehurst said, according to ZDnet, referring to open source driving innovation.

With people able to take pieces, add new ones, blend others and share advances, customers and providers can solve problems or create leaps forward in applications without having to wait for the next release of a great monolithic proprietary suite.

Perhaps The Skinny is wrong on this, but isn’t the frenzy in “apps” development an example of what Whitehurst is describing?

Developers may be taking Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS to places even the late Steve Jobs couldn’t conceive. The innovation in apps is quite remarkable.

As for open source and Linux, who would have thought just a few years ago Red Hat engineers would be helping the wizards of smart run Wall Street exchanges or that Red Hat would be a $1 billion-plus company?

ZDnet noted that Whitehurst praised how the community users of an open source project called Hadoop drive “big data” – the latest tech industry buzz term.

But Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and others are not about to surrender. 

While Whitehurst stressed that “open source is the default choice of the next generation UT architecture,” he also noted that “Openness, standardization, commoditization is not done and it’s a battle we’ll continue to fight over the next few years.”