Weekly dispatch a victim of open source’s success

Column ends, but coverage of open source is just beginning

Editor’s note: Following the closure of the print edition of US tech magazine InfoWorld, Neil McAllister has opted to stop writing his weekly “Open Enterprise” column. He will continue to contribute to the now online-only InfoWorld, but this is his last column. Expect to see more of McAllister’s incisive commentary on open source in Computerworld, but under a different banner.

Two years ago, I launched this column based on a simple premise: open source and open standards are here to stay. Where other publications pontificated on what it would take for open source to be “ready for the enterprise”, the basic assumption of this column was that enterprises were already taking advantage of open source software at every level of their IT infrastructures. Open source was assumed to be a permanent part of the enterprise software landscape — and, in fact, had been for years.

The challenge for IT managers, as I saw it, was to align the use of open source software with the larger enterprise IT strategy. Open code, in and of itself, is not reason enough to commit to a piece of software for a mission-critical task. There are countless other factors to consider, from licensing and legal issues to interoperability and support availability.

Each week, I sought out and explored the topics that were foremost in the minds of enterprise IT managers considering deploying open source software. My goal was not to be a cheerleader for open source — as I’ve said from the beginning, it doesn’t need one — but rather to delve into the issues and present them in ways that would help IT managers make decisions with confidence.

So why end it now? Simply put, the discussion around open source has grown far beyond the ability of a weekly column to encapsulate it all.

The intervening years have only served to validate the original concept of this column. Open source now casts a long shadow in enterprise IT, indeed. It’s no longer confined to web servers,

middleware and server-room infrastructure. Today it has a place in enterprise applications and it’s poised to make a serious bid for the desktop.

That’s why, given InfoWorld’s new online focus, it seems only fitting to set the topic free. The end of “Open Enterprise” doesn’t mean InfoWorld is stepping back from its coverage of open source and open standards. Far from it. If anything, over the coming months you can expect to see InfoWorld’s growing roster of contributors explore the world of free software, collaborative development and open standards with vigour.

For starters, if you’re not reading Matt Asay and Dave Rosenberg’s Open Sources blog at InfoWorld.com, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Matt and Dave are both knee-deep in the open source software industry, serving key roles at Alfresco and MuleSource, respectively. Once you get a dose of their insightful daily commentary, I’m sure they’ll become a mainstay of your RSS reader.

It’s been a good two years, and I’ve appreciated all the feedback. Now, get ready for the next phase of InfoWorld’s history. It’s going to be a banner year for open source.

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