Microsoft buys GitHub

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By far the dominant story from this week in the software development world involves Microsoft’s buyout of the source control giants, GitHub. In fact, we just talked about GitHub’s positive impact on the application engineering process in May’s news digest. Of course, this news spawned a lot of discussion and controversy within the developer community.

Let’s take a closer look at Microsoft’s purchase of GitHub with an eye on the reasons behind the acquisition as well as what it means for your app engineering shop. Is a new era in software development now upon us? Will it change how your team manages its source code?

The Details behind the Microsoft/GitHub Purchase

Microsoft buying GitHub isn’t just another example of Redmond crushing a competitor. Burning venture capital at a high rate over the past few years made GitHub a ripe target for acquisition. The giants in the industry, namely Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, all considered a purchase of the code-sharing organization.

According to an article in CNBC, GitHub preferred Microsoft due to the relationship between their founder, Chris Wanstrath, and Redmond CEO, Satya Nadella. Paying $7.5 billion meant MS paid nearly 25 times GitHub’s revenue, to use a stock analyst metric. Microsoft gains the benefit of a popular Cloud-based service for its Azure offering; part of its strategy to compete with Amazon AWS in the industry.

GitHub also pairs nicely with LinkedIn in the Redmond portfolio. It gives Microsoft access to a large number of software engineering and general technology professionals. The expectation is for GitHub to continue to operate in a largely independent fashion with the exception of a migration to Azure.   

Is this the End of the Open Source GitHub?

As we discussed last week, GitHub provides a great example of the positive influence of open source on the software development world. Back in the Steve Ballmer era, Microsoft earned a reputation as an enemy of open source software. “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” said the MS CEO back in 2001.

Much of the gnashing and trashing in the developer community about a Microsoft-owned GitHub is a reflection of Redmond at the turn of the century. The Nadella-led company, on the other hand, is more of a champion of open source. The Visual Studio Code and .NET Core initiatives are examples of this new progressive attitude at Microsoft.

One of Nadella’s strategic goals involves fostering a developer-centric focus, or even emphasizing the one that already existed at Microsoft. GitHub fits perfectly with these plans. In fact, Microsoft closing its own competitor to the service – Codeplex – last year hinted at this week’s purchase. The added benefit of boosting Azure’s chances against AWS in the Cloud wars likely clinched their purchase decision.

Ultimately, when compared to Google or Amazon, Microsoft is arguably the better choice for GitHub. This especially rings true considering the company’s developer focus, as well as the embracing of open source under Satya Nadella. Nonetheless, every development shop currently using the source code service needs to consider whether staying makes sense for the long term.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Stay tuned for additional dispatches from the never boring world of software development.