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Friday, August 12, 2005

Open Source : PonyTails Vs Suits – Getting Blurred

Richard Waters writes, Something has happened to the open source software movement. It is losing some of the intellectual purity that first drew in the ponytail crowd. It is being subverted to the interests of bigger technology companies - something that makes the idealists who created the movement angry and perturbed. That, may be the wrong reaction as merging with the corporate mainstream is the logical next step. Open-source is a collection of methods for creating and distributing software that exposes the inefficiency in some parts of the traditional commercial industry. The idealism that has surrounded this movement has always masked some harder-edged economic realities, which explains why it can be absorbed into the mainstream with relative ease. Every software company worth its salt already has some open-source strategy – From IBM to Sun. Most commercial software released this way still comes with strings attached, as the owners try to grab the benefits of open-source – leading to a proliferation of different open-source software licenses - more than 60 at the last count. "shared source" and "community source" labels help to an extent faster absorption by giving users more control should add to the general good - even as it threatens the business models of the weaker developers, forcing a more efficient allocation of software development resources.
The conflict between the ponytails and the suits was never as strong as is perceived. For many software developers, contributing software to an open-source project is an act of self-help: the wider community can create something that no developers working alone or in small groups can. Most developers work in the IT departments of big companies, writing code for their employers: pooling those efforts with others is a more efficient way of building software. This movement of linking developers also serves to disintermediate the big commercial software companies. Successful tech businesses are beginning to borrow ideas (EMC – Vmware) from the open-source world. The open-source purists are not impressed at this half-hearted approach to "openness". There have been rumblings of criticism. Is it true open-source? No. But it is a sign that powerful ideas that have bubbled to the surface in one of the world's most dynamic industries have filtered through into the wider corporate consciousness. My Take: I am not seeing any great fascination towards opensource in enterprise applications from buyer perspective and I still beleive that opensource lacks a business model for sustenance.Not withstanding the fact that Opensource absorption at absolute levels - this signals the success of open-source pioneers in reshaping the software landscape, not the end of a dream
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