Open Source in an Enterprise

By Subraya Mallya - April 2009 | Topics - Open Source

In the last decade Open Source software has found its way into every company in some shape or form. Adoption of open source software range from embedding a open source component into a new software product, to using Open source system management products to manage the IT infrastructure.

In addition to pooling together the creativity and knowledge of the crowd in creating some great solutions, Apache, Tomcat, Linux, MySQL, to name a few, open source has in a way democratized the software development industry, which was, until now, the domain of big companies with large R&D budgets.

On the business front, it has also given rise to many a new business models where independent software vendors and system integrators have been able to package one or more open source software products into solutions along with other services(think RedHat, Spikesource, Xen to name a few). It has also lowered the barrier for Small and Medium businesses to be able to afford technology solutions. The availability of the source code has made companies, which traditionally went with large companies for software, take chances with smaller companies.

Large companies themselves are seeing the value of open source movement and have started adopting the best of breed open source products into their product line. Back in early 2000, I remember Oracle discarding its own web server in favor of Apache HTTP Server and more recently buying Innobase, Berkeley DB  and even more recently Oracle Enterprise Linux. IBM has long been supporter of Open Source with contributions and support for Geronimo, PHP, JSF, WebSphere and Sun (is it part of IBM already?) with Star Office, Java, MySQL have given open source the credibility it needs.

While the nobody can deny the value of one of the common beliefs amongst the people who consume Open Source products is that it is free and anyone can download it and use it in any shape or form. It becomes really tricky when software vendors incorporate other open source products into theirs.

Open Source comes in various licenses. GPL, the most common among them. LGPL, MIT, Mozilla, BSD, Creative Commons, Apache make up almost 80% of the open source software available.

In this series of posts, I intend to cover some of the topics that companies wrestle with Open Source around Adoption, Integration, and Governance.

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