Interview: David Richards, CEO WANdisco on why open source matters and where the UK got it wrong on healthcare data.
Sitting down with CBR, CEO David Richards had some strong words for the UK government when it came to education.
"The Government needs to have some balls, and just say why do we have an education system where people can leave it at 16? That’s a relic of the British Empire, where we needed people at 16 to work in factories, at 18 manage factories and 21 to run the place, the whole system is geared towards that.
"You need land labour and capital and enterprise for industry, we’ve got everything but labour, that’s the big problem."
This is the biggest issue for the UK for him, "Here the universities and the relevance of what they are doing is a by product of 100 years ago. We don’t produce industry ready graduates."
"Our education system in the UK was created 100 years ago to service an empire economy, not a business economy. We still have bright intelligent people, but we now accept that if we take graduates we pretty much have to train them ourselves.
"In the US the education system is better. We can take graduates from universities and they are immediately productive on core Hadoop development. Not just on specifics but all the stuff you need around the edges as well. They come ready-made, right off the conveyor belt."
The company which employed graduates straight from U.S universities, to in one instance run the main Hadoop cluster at eBay, believes that the close relationship between Silicon Valley and Universities is a reason for success.
"There is a reason that Silicon Valley exists and it’s really because of the university system. The universities are very close to the employers. Lecturers at Stanford go off and create companies.
"It’s great that coding is on the curriculum, but we need to ensure this progressive attitude filters through elsewhere in the education system."
Richards is also critical of how the use of data has been approached by the NHS, in particular using for-profit companies.
"The minute you involve companies like Google or Facebook, then you are moving headlong into question marks about data privacy."
"I think the NHS took the wrong path, if they did it again they could do it themselves they don’t need to go to external companies to do it, it could be done in-house and make it a huge success."
Richards said that the UK government doesn’t know where the strategy needs to be, but praised the efforts of the Irish government and its effort to create meaningful big data jobs.
The company is a member of the ODP, which Richards says is being driven by industry demand for defining Hadoop.
"The Apache Software Foundation is great for developing open source – it’s fantastic, what it’s not great for is creating clear a definition for industry about what it is."
While he doesn’t have a bad word to say about Cloudera he does question its lack of involvement: "There must be a vested interest for them, it wouldn’t be too difficult to guess what it is. Unless you want a monopoly or are trying to develop one, which will never happen."
He also raises some questions around the involvement of some big vendors which the ODP defends against: "You may be forced to take what you think is an open source stack from a vendor and find that parts of it are not open source.
"If I was trying to control open source then I would have proprietary components built in stealth into it, the ODP won’t allow that to happen, its open community versus closed community."
"In the case of HP, IBM, Intel, they want to sell boxes, so they want the end point to software to be open, they want that to be pervasive so they can sell more boxes.
"If you’re a company that doesn’t really have a business model that fits like that and is focused on differentiation around the end point, then you can’t have it completely open, that is at complete odds with the philosophy of open source."