You can’t help but wonder if EMC Federation boss Joe Tucci is reaching for his stress ball today. His company’s spawn, Pivotal Software, is open sourcing the core of GemFire, its distributed in-memory database.

We asked Tucci to comment, but he hasn’t gotten back to us yet. And though his press spokesperson told us “we’re for it,” when it comes to open source, we suspect that it might feel a bit like watching your teenager turn your mansion into a commune.

EMC spinoff VMware (a part of the EMC Federation) paid good money for GemFire (it was called GemStone at the time), after all, and it’s hard to imagine that Tucci is elated about releasing it to the Adobe Foundation for incubation, where the code is open to all and free for the taking.

Changing Times

Trying to sell proprietary software in a third platform world doesn’t go over well. In fact, many would-be customers won’t even start conversations. “Enterprises don’t want lock-in,” Michael Cucchi, senior director of outbound product at Pivotal, told us a few months ago. “It has to be open source or the conversation doesn’t begin."

But that’s not the only announcement Pivotal made today. In a press release, the company also announced that it has become a Platinum Sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation.

Though Pivotal has been a member of the Foundation since 2013 through its support of the Spring developer community, its decision to open source the components of its Big Data Platform testifies to its commitment to “the Apache Way.”

The open source engine that powers Pivotal GemFire has been submitted for incubation to the Apache Software Foundation under the name “Project Geode.” Call it a sign of the times, an awakening, a pivot or proof that EMC’s giant Federation can be agile. But today’s move is nothing less than smart business.