Business and FOSS
Photo by Andrew Abogado
Open Source has substantially altered the dynamics of the software business that runs in the competitive world. It is not just a strong competition in the web-servers' business, but a reason for Microsoft to cut down the cost of its propriety software. Microsoft shall not be scared of Linux taking it for a ride but there certainly is a price check. The areas for operations in Open Source have increased phenomenally and it is used in sectors where proprietary software once dictated the ethos. The increasing use of OpenOffice in organizations is just an example.
Open Source ensures win for those who adopt the Darwinian principle. It helps in propagating technology which is deemed to be successful in a business use-case, thus creating value for a customer which is the supreme goal of a business. It is better to face a real competition than existing in an oligopolistic market where the professionals always surpass the amateurs. These amateurs are the ones more often who have the passion and enthusiasm in them.
FOSS for the community
The most interesting thing that Open Source has to give the community of startups, bloggers, hackers, coders etc. is the ability to work from an environment which is driven by a society of like minded people and is free to use, share and extend. What sustains over a period of time is the bottom-up approach in which Open Source compels the amateur user to make what he wants; and if that's good enough it survives and succeeds.
The greatest lure in FOSS is of it being free and community driven. Support can be made available at a price, when needed. There are companies minting good money, just by providing support, add-ons and customization to the already available open source softwares.
Back at a conference I attended earlier this year, someone said, "There are no free lunches". I agree. But how about paying a small amount and you get to have the lunch and dessert come as an assortment? Above that, you're entertained as a privileged guest. That's how most businesses which work on Open Source development make money.
The CSC Leading Edge Forum report on 'Open Source for Business' correctly says, "Open Source is a movement that is technical, political and sociological". Though Open Source chairs Linux in the hands of the world as software environment, the open for everyone and collaborations with anyone approach makes the competition equal for all. There are also several key business driving decisions that have over a period of time placed Open Source and its relative strategies as the most important ones.
The promise that Open Source beholds for the business fraternity is real. Matt Asay shares a great list of 10 things that the world can learn from the Open Source fraternity. Open Source paradigm gives a feel that the software industry's work culture can be well drafted and replicated in the other industries. Newer terms such as Open Source Business Intelligence and their implementations in real time business scenarios have proved that they are not just fad or jargons like others. Open Source is here to stay and it is also set to make a bigger impact on the software world.