Open source success due to major vendors, claims report

Rapid commercialisation is driving open source software adoption

The success of open source software is now being driven by its rapid commercialisation and not simply its appeal to evangelistic developers, a new report has suggested.

The authors of "Power, Speed and Assimilation: Open Source Changes the Industry", and the "Industry Changes Open Source", a mini report from Saugatuck Technology, go as far as to suggest that it has been the involvement of large IT vendors, such as IBM and Microsoft, that has given open source its most important boost.

The consequence is that open source is now less about developer-driven projects and more about products under the commercial control of specific companies.

"It's safe to say that open source software is not what anyone thought it was, or would be," said Saugatuck's managing director and report co-author, Bruce Guptill. "Open source's rampant commercialisation has accelerated its adoption and change well beyond what most IT executives and software industry executive ever perceived or predicted," he said.

Saugatuck claims that the success of open source makes it necessary to change how its expansion is measured, orienting it more towards commercial development.

"The reality today is that most open source software comes from carefully structured and well-managed development communities made up primarily of software vendors. And some of the most influential software vendors in open source are the same master brands from which we currently buy enterprise-critical solutions: IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun and others," say the authors.

That companies, including closed source enemy Microsoft, are now a key factor in helping to drive open source into mainstream business might appear ironic to some, but it could be argued that it is more symptom than cause. Microsoft and others have had to integrate some elements of open source into its environment because that was what the market was telling them to do.

The paid-for report, which can be downloaded from the company's website, was compiled after gathering data from a range of sources, including vendors, IT executives, and developer organisations.

The company has produced a number of open course-related reports in recent times, including 'Open Source Software: The Next Disruptive It Influence' in 2007, which suggested that the influence of such software was often less apparent than that of closed source equivalents.

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