Is the Open Source Conversation Dead?

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One of my partners was asked by the Chief Information Officer of a major financial services organization for some help thinking through his open source strategy.  Honestly, the open source conversation has not come up much lately.

Is open source in the enterprise a dead issue?

Have companies already tapped into the open source apps and tools and exhausted the options?  Or, maybe consideration of open source software is fully integrated into companies’ software selection process?

A Gartner study said that 84% of financial services companies expected to be using some form of open source by the end of 2008 and a CIO Insight survey put Red Hat at #7 in vendor value.  Given the lack of conversation with the organizations we work with, I suspect that there are more open source opportunities out there.

Furthermore, I think that the increased focus on software as a service and cloud computing will pull more open source solutions into a hosted model.  This should make it easier for enterprises (certainly small and medium sized ones) to take advantage.

Vendors have been hosting websites on Apache for years.  Why not look into other open source applications and tools provided as a service in the cloud?  Here are some examples:

Software Type Open Source Examples Sample Cloud Vendors
LAMP” Stack Hosting Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl Rackspace and many others
Application Server JBoss Neospire and many others
Web Application Platform Ruby on Rails Engine Yard
Content Management Plone High Speed Rails, WebFaction
Statistical Analysis R Information Builders/OnApproach (WEBFocus)
ERP Compiere Leventum
CRM SugarCRM M8 Solutions, Leventum

This list was pulled together with some simple Google searches.  Most major hosting firms should be able to provide the basic open source apps as they tend to largely fall into the LAMP architecture - Linux, Apache, MySQL and Pearl (or PHP or Python - all scripting languages).  Of course, the major questions for these providers is if they have the management expertise for the configuration, administration and performance tuning of the open source installation, all enterprise strength computing requirements.  Otherwise, all you would get would be the open source install on someone else’s box - not much leverage.

As an IT leader in a large company, you may think that these hosted apps are not a fit for your company.  Maybe not.  But on the otherhand, a cheap, hosted LAMP+JBoss environment may be the perfect way to get a quick prototype built without the cost, procurement and administration hassles.

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