Being open to open source

There remains some residual apprehension around open source software (OSS), despite the fact it is increasingly widely adopted.

However, such technologies can no longer be avoided, as Gartner announced at their open source summit:

By 2011, 80% of commercial software will contain significant amounts of open source code

Of course, it won't all happen in 2011 with a great thunderclap - the reality is, there is a huge investment in open source already:

  • The internet runs on open source - from the most popular http server (Apache) to the fundamental infrastructure for DNS name resolution (BIND). If it wasn't for OSS we'd be living in a very different world
  • Many commercial vendors including IBM, Sun and Oracle are active participants in, contributors to and purchasers of open source tools and projects.
  • Certain technology areas are considered less trusted when they are not open source. World-leading cryptography and security specialist Bruce Schneier considers open source to be not only uncontroversial but smart engineering practice
  • Whilst not all open source projects make the grade, it is clear the the bazaar style of software development has produced - and continues to produce - a number of industry-shaking successes

Of course it remains critical to exercise due diligence when considering the role open source will play in your organisation, but there is unquestionably real value to be had in many areas.

But from a personal perspective, after around two decades in professional IT, where I've seen many non-rodent related projects consume unforseen resources in the attempt to build better mousetraps, a key value of OSS is summed up by a pretty traditional business maxim: The best open source projects, by harnessing and concentrating global expertise that would otherwise remain diffuse, manage to create, distribute, support and evangelise freely available components that are better by some margin than those we would create ourselves... This fact leaves us with absolutely no excuse not to stick to the knitting.

 

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Gavin Ritchie
Gavin Ritchie is the IT Director of Longevitas
Open source in Longevitas
Longevitas software benefits from a number of carefully chosen open source components including the Spring Framework,JQuery and Quartz, and we host our services on servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.