Couchbase CEO: the real rationale for enterprise open source


This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Open Source Insider blog by Bob Wiederhold, CEO at Couchbase.

The new stack

Cloud computing, big data and mobile are driving enterprises to redefine their software stack.

Open source will be a huge part of that.

But why open source?

It is usually not any one single reason that drives open source adoption, but a combination of factors that lead to the open source decision.

Innovation speed

Open source software tends to innovate faster than proprietary counterparts. Successful open source projects draw contributions from large numbers of developers and users. Some contribute to the core product, while others work on periphery areas like SDKs or connectors to other technologies.

The accumulation of this community participation accelerates delivery of the key features and ecosystem that enterprises need. The result is that open source usually delivers better, faster moving products than competitive, proprietary alternatives.

Open source allows for a more natural adoption approach within the enterprise. It is free and generally easy to download, install, and get started with. This allows easy exploration of and experimentation with new technologies and allows enterprises to get comfortable with the software on smaller, non-mission-critical projects before any financial commitment is required.

This bottoms-up approach provides teams more control and is far less risky and more natural than the typical proprietary software approach that is slower, top-down and requires a big financial commitment much earlier in the process.

Community spirit

Additionally, the communities that arise around open source projects are inherently helpful, easy and free to engage. These communities include developers, administrative and operations experts, who want to solve problems and share experiences, code snippets, plugins and more.

Theoretically there is no reason proprietary user groups could not evolve to be more like open source communities, but the “open” ethos of the companies and communities behind open source projects almost always produce far more supportive communities than the “closed” ethos of the companies and user groups around proprietary software.

Another key advantage of open source is that it does not “lock-in” a user as much as proprietary software does. Customers using paid versions of open source take comfort in the option to revert to free versions if they don’t feel they get sufficient value from their vendor.

Stabilisation tipping point

Many teams plan to use the paid version for only a few years, while they build in-house expertise and stabilise the technology deployments. While few companies actually do end up making the switch back to free versions, having that option is highly valued.

Cost, while almost never the only criteria, is always a contributing factor.

Open source is often dramatically less expensive than proprietary software. There are a variety of reasons for that, but the result is that open source delivers a significantly lower TCO. This reduces investment risk and generally makes it easier for enterprises to select.

Technology needed to support cloud computing, big data and mobile will continue to drive enterprises to adopt new infrastructure. More and more of that infrastructure will be open source as it is increasingly seen as a better, easier alternative to proprietary models.

What Couchbase is, does, are, etc…

Couchbase is an open-source, distributed NoSQL document-oriented database said to be optimised for “interactive applications” — the company says that developers use the Couchbase platform to build enterprise web, mobile and IoT applications that support massive data volumes in real time.

The Couchbase product platform includes: Couchbase Server, Couchbase Lite – the first mobile NoSQL database… and Couchbase Sync Gateway.