Thursday, February 16, 2006

CNET on open-source - can it really survive?

CNET produced an interesting article on the likely direction of open-source. And this is clearly a hot topic right now.

Oracle is snapping up open-source outfits like it's going out of fashion. And people are already speculating about their real intentions. Do they want to ride the open-source wave or kill it.

SAP on the other hand believe that open-source is doomed and as more and more corporates look to consolidate their business applications under one or two players, then only the huge encumbants can survive.

And the big debate for this year could well be whether open-source can become the new way to build all manner of software or whether it will just prove to be another collaborative fad that will fade out as the hippy era did.

I'm not so sure. The real reason that open-source can happen is the Internet. And the Internet isn't going away. It is on a guaranteed path to all pervasiveness (see digital big bang for proof).

And as the Internet changes so much, it could usher fundamentally in new ways of working, such as open-source. Open-source could become more important - not less. And open-source could become more pervasive - not less. Open-source could build a great deal more product categories than just software, including books and movies and games.

If I were SAP I would be extremely careful about dismissing open-source projects. I would embrace them as Oracle is (we hope!). The big question is how open-source becomes mainstream and even better organised. For if it doesn't they may even fulfill SAP's wishes.

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