On the Prevalence of Open Source
November 11, 2015
Who would have thought, two decades ago, that open source code was going to dominate the software field? Vallified’s Philip O’Toole meditates on “The Strange Economics of Open-Source Software.” Though the industry gives so much away for free, it’s doing quite well for itself.
O’Toole notes that closed-source software is still in wide use, largely in banks’ embedded devices and underpinning services. Also, many organizations are still attached to their Microsoft and Oracle products. But the tide has been turning; he writes:
“The increasing dominance of open-source software seems particularly true with respect to infrastructure software. While security software has often been open-source through necessity — no-one would trust it otherwise — infrastructure is becoming the dominant category of open-source. Look at databases — MySQL, MongoDB, RethinkDB, CouchDB, InfluxDB (of which I am part of the development team), or cockroachdb. Is there anyone today that would even consider developing a new closed-source database? Or take search technology — elasticsearch, Solr, and bleve — all open-source. And Linux is so obvious, it is almost pointless to mention it. If you want to create a closed-source infrastructure solution, you better have an enormously compelling story, or be delivering it as part of a bigger package such as a software appliance.”
It has gotten to the point where developers may hesitate to work on a closed-source project because it will do nothing for their reputation. Where do the profits come from, you may ask? Why in the sale of services, of course. It’s all part of today’s cloud-based reality.
Cynthia Murrell, November 11, 2015