Some day, all companies will work with open source

The software application development community tends to use the summer months to host various events, exhibitions, symposia and community gatherings of all kinds. I for one am looking forward to attending a couple of these including Sybase TechWave, especially given the company’s recent acquisition by SAP.

As a test, I thought I would analyse one or two companies not exactly famous for their reputation in open source and see what came up. Sybase as a case in point does have an open source developer portal so-to-speak that is focused on among other things ebXML (Electronic Business using extensible Markup Language) which is a standard method to exchange business messages.

The point here is that technology vendors are waking up to the reality of open source and the so-called community contribution model of code development and enhancement. Even if the company in question is a proprietary “closed” shop in general. There are, it seems, always going to be some extensions to the technology core that can be opened up for public consumption.

So it would be remiss of me not to mention Microsoft and the company’s open source projects at this point. Microsoft has in fact got quite an enviable track record in open source. To list just two examples, the company has shared the source code of FlexWiki, which is a software program for creating wikis. It has also formed all manner of open source partnerships and alliances with companies such as Novell, Red Hat’s JBOSS etc.

So what does all this teach us? I spoke to Martin Atherton who is service director
at analyst house Freeform Dynamics Ltd. “The open source philosophy serves the broader, economics-driven need for software firms to redeploy / reuse code if it’s appropriate. What end customers need to be more aware of than they are today is that products they do buy don’t end up the subject of IP disputes, which have and will happen. Of interest also, are ‘open source software firms’ (Talend springs to mind), which initially traded solely on that basis, but now trade on the fact they simply have a decent product to offer,” said Atherton.