Open Source Software
|Submit Information Technology Questions||Technology Updates - Interrelated IT|
|Trends in Open Source Software||Intellectual Property and Patents||European Governments|
|Open Source Software - Origins and Projects||Open Source Software - Opportunity||Open Source Software - Advantages, Tradeoffs, and Disadvantages|
Trends in Open Source Software
According to a survey of information technology executives and business managers performed by CIO.com, 53% of organizational enterprise is already using open source software. Approximately 80% of an information technology budget is used for standard operations and 30% of that budget goes directly into paying the salaries of employees performing routine maintenance. Given the requirement to streamline budget, there are less discretionary funds and capital for investment in hardware and software technology. Management is increasingly turning to open source software to address this issue.
FOSS: Free open source software assets can affect information technology initiatives in positive and negative ways. The major benefits are driven by a confluence of cost optimization, flexibility, and innovation. The principal risks are unmanaged software assets that can introduce technical and legal challenges: security, intellectual property management, and audit compliance. There will be costs that have to be budgeted in conjunction with its implementation.
The successful integration of open source software will require an organization-specific governance model which:
Open source software is not an all or nothing decision; it can be utilized in hybrid combinations with commercial software.
Intellectual Property and Patents
Many software developers consider source code not to be an executable device, but rather as a description of how a device executes. This logic is based upon the assumption that source code is not by itself covered by patent law and that the fundamental premise would apply even in countries where software patents are accepted. Its viability will need to be tested in the courts. Independent nation states, negotiated integrated trade zones, and geopolitical spheres of influence apply different regulations and laws to software and intellectual property. Some countries accept software and algorithm patents; there can be ramifications with intellectual property infringement. Open source software packages have started to selectively include switches or a patch that enable or disable patented code fragments according to the country where the code is used.
The availability of source code directly applies to the detection of patent infringements by patent holders, and the absence of an organization holding all the rights on the software makes it difficult to use standard mechanisms to defend from patent litigation: cross-licensing or payment of royalties.
European governments use open source software as a counterbalancing tool to intellectual property law and promote competition, innovation, and the public interest in a free market economy. They support competition more than in the United States. European anti-trust regulators typically will evaluate and grant access to its markets based upon a balancing among leading commercial software and availability of open source software.
Several European countries have policies which promote government agencies and municipalities to consider open source software as alternatives to monopolistic commercial software such as Linux in place of the Microsoft Windows operating system and MySQL in place of Microsoft SQL Server.
Open Source Software - Origins and Projects
The Open Source Initiative was founded in the late 1990's and is an innovative, community-enabled model for creating quality software based on widely accepted industry standards. The foundation of open source software distributed under the GPL: General Public License is that any organization or person that releases code into the market under that designation places no restrictions on its use. Open source software is available free or at minimal cost.
The Open Data Center Alliance is a collection of more than 300 companies which together represent over $100 billion in annual information technology spending which promotes open standards and shared information.
The bottom up grass roots nature of open source has led advocates to view the projects as a populist foil to commercial software, where a company keeps the inner workings of its applications secret. Commercial vendors have built for-profit businesses around open source products.
The three most common business models are:
|Charging for enterprise-class support of the free software.|
|Offering specialized enterprise versions of the open source software which provide significantly enhanced functionality, commercial support packages, and management tools.|
|Providing the software free of charge; but selling the underlying hardware.|
Open source software has thrived and played a prominent role in the building of the Internetís infrastructure.
Many companies rely on Linux-based computers and Apache web server software to display their web pages. The Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers have emerged as formidable competition to Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Red Hat, Inc. is the leading provider of open-source software products to the enterprise community: Red Hat Linux and Fedora - Linux, middleware, management products, and applications.
Open Source Projects
Open source projects are being supported financially and used by leading information technology companies to shape markets in their own interest.
Companies such as IBM, Google, Oracle, and Intel pay developers top salaries to work on open source projects which promote their own strategic objectives.
IBM has been a major backer of Linux, helping to raise it as a competitor to Microsoft Windows and other commercial operating systems.
Google provided financial support to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the development of Firefox.
Hewlett-Packard has open sourced its webOS operating system. HP acquired webOS from Palm and has been trying to recoup its investment after its failure in the smartphone and tablet market. The open ce webOS provides hardware companies with a way to diversify and reduce their dependence on the Google Android operating system. HP could then revamp webOS while having a fallback position.
The Apache Hadoop project develops open source software for scalable, distributed computing. In conjunction with subprojects, it provides high availability software and services for clustered computers in large and diverse collections of data.1
Samsung provides financial support and is a platinum member of the Linux Foundation; this allows it to exert influence in how Linux is developed and the open source projects related to it.
The infrastructure of Twitter, Intank, and Servergy is supported by thousands of Linux servers. They have joined the Linux Foundation to contribute and collaborate with the Linux developer community in order to improve their own Linux operations and client software services.
SAIC, Accenture, Unisys, and CSC are providing open source services and expanding expertise beyond Linux to cover open source databases, middleware, and applications.
The Open Compute Project was founded by Facebook and Rackspace to improve data center energy efficiency; it is in its early stage of evaluation and acceptance as an international standard.
OpenStack is a free and open source software comprised of interrelated projects that control pools of processing, storage, and networking resources within a data center. It is released under the terms of the Apache License.
CodePlex is Microsoft's open source project hosting web site: tools, source code, and an advanced platform for designing and building software. CodePlex can be used for creating and sharing new projects, downloading open source software, and providing feedback.
OpenDaylight is an open source Linux Foundation project launched by leading information technology vendors for creating software that can serve as the foundation for future SDN: Software-defined Networking products and research.
Significant acquisitions in which an information technology company has bought an up-and-coming open source company include:
|Java Platform and language by Oracle Corporation||MySQL by Sun Microsystems and
subsequently Oracle Corporation
|SpringSource by VMware||XenSource by Citrix|
The Java programming language is available in the public domain free of charge; however, there is component code of the platform which requires a specific license from Oracle Corporation. The Java SDK code based on the Java API library also can be downloaded free of charge. A license is required when class libraries based on Java API designs are used and when Java software components are downloaded. The consensus among information technology executives and technologist is that although there are components of the Java language available at no cost and unrestricted in use, the Java platform requires a license which enforces restrictions in use.
The complexity of the Java language and platform is a legal question involving a mixed set of guidelines. In the Oracle Corporation versus Google Corporation legal action at the United States District Court in San Francisco, Google legal counsel asked Laurence Ellison, chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation under oath, whether the Java language is free open source software. Mr. Ellisonís response was that he did not know.
Open Source Software - Opportunity
Open source software is being increasingly evaluated by organizational enterprise as an alternative to commercial software: affordability, performance, and usability. The strategic objective is to utilize open source software for improving the efficiency of IT infrastructure and innovating for competitive advantage. In order to ensure competition in the marketplace, the governments in different parts of the world are imposing regulations in accordance with their national agenda in order to ensure that there is an open source alternative to the major commercial software products.
Open source software has reached a level of maturity and acceptance, where it has become a standard practice as part of product evaluations to compare open source applications with commercial solutions.
|Open Source Stack||Open Source Software|
|Web Apps, Office Suite Applications, and Blogging|
|Operating System: UNIX- and Linux-variants|
|CETi is in the process of reviewing and categorizing open source mobile databases. Information can be reviewed at SYS-ED software specific websites.|
Open Source Software - Advantages, Tradeoffs, and Disadvantages
Proponents advocate the use of open source software for the following reasons:
|Avoid Vendor Lock-in||Open source software is built on standard technologies and offers interoperability with commercial software. This can serve to mitigate being held captive to license and maintenance contract price increases from commercial software vendors.|
|Commodity Hardware||The use of commodity hardware rather than commercial machines represents a significant cost saving. Both the initial outlay for base systems and hardware maintenance will be less expensive. Architecture independence allows software to be transferred across physical systems.|
|Innovation||There are parties in the open source community working to refine and expand the functionality of open source software. Upgrades, patches, and bug fixes are typically released faster that commercial software.|
|Security||In many cases, open source software will be more secure than commercial software and fewer remedial activities and resources will be needed to keep systems and data safe.|
|Value||Since development costs are shared by a community of parties, open source software will be less expensive than commercial software.|
|Tradeoffs and Disadvantages||Explanation|
|Software incompatibility||There can be inconsistencies and problems with integrating open source software with existing software.|
|Support and Maintenance||There can be uncertainty and risk associated with the support provided with an open source software ecosystem: technical difficulties, maintenance, and troubleshooting. In many situations, there can be no guaranteed response time for submitted questions and problems.|
|Costs - Open Source Software||There will be costs associated with free software. The open source software requires investment and development of salaried staff to provided specialized support and service.|
|Documentation - Shortcomings||The completeness, quality, and third party availability of documentation associated with open source software typically is inferior to commercial software.|
|Intellectual Property||There can be additional complexity associated with open source software. The absence of an organization holding all the rights on the software makes it difficult to use standard mechanisms for defending usage rights and patent litigation.|