posted by Mark Tolliver on Thu 13th Sep 2007 08:14 UTC
IconThe widespread acceptance of open source continues to grow as a cost-effective alternative to traditional network deployments. Well-known projects such as Linux have proven themselves to be in the enterprise environment, helping to dispel the fear, uncertainty and doubt preceding open source implementations. In the past two years, the industry has begun to shift from a total dependence on proprietary applications to a desire for more cost-effective, scalable and collaborative solutions.

IDC has called open source the most significant, all-encompassing and long-term trend that the software industry had seen since the early 1980's. In their 2006 report, "Open Source in Global Software: Market Impact," IDC Research found that open source was being used by 71% of worldwide developers and was in production at 54% of their companies. Further bolstering the growing popularity of open source, Gartner Research found in a 2007 report that by 2008, 95% of Global 2000 organizations will have formal open-source acquisition management strategies in place to address the challenges and opportunities of open source software (OSS).

Although open source is not new, it has only recently begun to move past the Linux stereotype in the minds of upper level management. This change in perception is more in line with reality since the major players -- "systems" related projects such as Linux OS -- account for just 12% of the 151,000 registered open source projects on Sourceforge.net, a repository of open source creativity and development. Although Linux ranks as the open source project that broke through the enterprise adoption barrier, it is clear that lesser known projects are gaining in popularity in terms of usefulness and enterprise readiness, examples include:

  • Mulesource for integration software
  • Intalio for Business Process Management (BPM)
  • Pentaho for Business Intelligence (BI)
  • Groundwork Open Source for network management
  • MedSphere for healthcare IT

Open source makes great business sense it can accelerate time to market, cut down on development costs, is easily adaptable and is free. However, OSS adoption is not without its challenges. Integration and interoperability top the list of enterprise concerns when considering OSS over proprietary applications. To solve these problems, global open source companies have formed organizations dedicated to producing truly interoperable solutions capable of transcending market verticals. The Open Solutions Alliance (OSA), which counts companies such as Unisys, Centric, Spikesource and Jaspersoft among their members, debuted the first open source interoperability project -- Common Customer View (CCV) -- at the August, 2007 Linuxworld event.

Another example of open source organizations uniting to create standardized solutions is The Collaborative Software Initiative (CSI), a group focused on the development of financial services applications. Though still in their freshman year, these organizations are paving the way for enterprise-ready open source applications.

Open Source Security Either You Have it or You Don't Along with efficiency and cost savings, open source code also introduces new levels of vulnerability and accountability to the enterprise. The sheer size of a code base coupled with the number of contributing developers makes it very difficult for companies to get an accurate assessment of their software assets: What do they have? Where did it come from? What are its intellectual property and security risks?

The FUD surrounding open source has contributed to the myth that OSS is less secure than proprietary software an oft debated topic. The prevailing opinion amongst the open source community is that OSS is in fact, more secure. Pointing to the thousands of open source contributors on any given project, developers note that any discovered vulnerability is likely to be fixed within hours, whereas a security flaw in a proprietary application may not be fixed for several days depending on the backlog.

Table of contents
  1. 'Open Source Risks and Responsibilities, Page 1'
  2. 'Open Source Risks and Responsibilities, Page 2'
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