Open Source and Enterprise Development

I attended a panel discussion about open source and enterprise development.  There were some stellar people on the panel, including:

  • Rocky Lhotka
  • Sara Rain
  • Rod Johnson
  • aak, I forget the other two!

Anyway, that's not important right now; I'll update later with the other two names.  Point is, they were asked about the whys and wherefores of open source in the enterprise space, and mentioned the 'cool' factor and the security of seeing the code as the primary factors for open source utilization.  I think they were wrong.

First, the reason people use open source is that it is free.  At the enterprise level, there is usually no shortage of money, but I don't think most open source is utilized at the enterprise level.  I think it is utilized at the department level.  Departments have budgets, and after the bubble burst, there is no departmental money in any enterprise.  Mid-level enterprise architects are using the software because there is no budget for a document management solution.  Instead of writing it themselves, they use open source.

Second, they overlooked the most important thing that open source is used for - education of the community.  When you have the best and brightest writing software then giving away the source, people use it for examples.  I use Community Server and Dot Net Nuke on a number of projects - because they are free, and good.  I use the source code to show how best to solve difficult problems every day, because they people who wrote them are smart.  That's what open source is doing for the development community more than anything else.

The panel also dismissed the idea of open sourcing products for end-of-life projects because 'what community wants to manage the source of Microsoft Money?'  Well, I disagree there too.  I bet someone would take the project on.  And I bet people would use it - because it is free, and good.  I don't care if the source is a mess.  Someone will own it, and someone will use it, and it is no hair off of anyone's back.  Visual Basic 6.0 would be a fantastic product to open source.  There is a monster community out there, and it is made up of developers.  Someone will use it and someone will own it.

Comments are closed

Bill Sempf

Husband. Father. Pentester. Secure software composer. Brewer. Lockpicker. Ninja. Insurrectionist. Lumberjack. All words that have been used to describe me recently. I help people write more secure software.

profile for Bill Sempf on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites