Open Source in the Enterprise

I listened to the audiocast of The Gilmore Gang‘s conversation with Kim Polese at IT Conversations and I was struck by a couple of things:

  • this is really exciting – it’s been obvious for some time that Open Source adoption in the enterprise requires a support and service structure and that it must have the “one throat to choke” feature alluded to in the conversation.
  • the idea that the closed source vendors in going to go away is ridiculous – I’m not sure anyone was saying that that’s going to happen, but there was some discussion of that concept

Some one (I can’t tell who – don’t know the players well enough to recoginize voices yet) mentioned that hundreds of the kinds of companies like SpikeSource before deep adoption of this kind of package is likely across the enterprise market. I can’t agree more, but I still don’t think that open source software is going to put closed source software out of business. And I, for one, am glad of it. An awful lot of developers would be out of jobs if closed source vendors went away.

I used to feel like a lot of the “Free Software” bunch did, that software should be free for everyone. Now I don’t think so. There’s a place in our world for people who make their livings writing software, and to make a living at it, someone has to be making a profit. I seriously doubt that many of the people writing code for the Open Source software are making aliving doing it, just like few of the developers who are writing software for the Shareware market make their living at it. It’s great that they have the time and energy to do this (I know I don’t, nor the knowledge), but they need to pay the rent and stock the cupboards, too.

I think the best interaction between the open and closed source worlds is when the open source stuff can give enterpises (and users) some real choices (and by that I mean choices that are saleable to CIOs and financial and legal people and that don’t require a huge amount of internal IT dollars to support and implement). When this happens, the closed source vendors are pushed to create some great software – and
let’s face it, much of the truly great software out there is written by closed source vendors. They’re pushed to be more concerned about their customer base and to be more standards-compliant. And in order for the open source software to fill this niche, we’ll need those hundred companies like Kim’s.

Thanks for the great conversation, Doug and Steve (et. al.)! And thanks SpikeSource!