A blog for the enterprise open source community
Support keeps coming for community open sourceJay Lyman, December 3, 2009 @ 2:12 pm ET
We’ve been tracking the enterprise use of unpaid, community open source software for a few years now, particularly Linux. Today, it is clear to see that commercial paid support for this type of software is on the rise. The latest example: OpenLogic’s bid to support CentOS, a free community Linux distro that, while a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, does not have any official commercial entity behind it.
Still, as we covered in our CAOS report ‘The Rise of Community Linux,’ we see increasing interest in and use of community distros such as CentOS, Debian, which is particularly popular in the telecommunications industry, Slackware, PCLinux, Asianux and others, including community versions from the biggest commercial Linux vendors: Novell’s OpenSuse and Red Hat’s Fedora. Although it is distributed and supported by Canonical, we also see some unpaid enterprise use of Ubuntu, as well.
What’s driving this use? Cost and the fact that these distributions are free of charge and free of licensing issues at scale, in virtual and cloud computing environments is obviously a big reason. However, we also see the desire to more effectively and efficiently utilize existing IT talent and experience. Organizations using Linux and other open source software typically realize before too long they have employees capable of supporting and deploying that software, and this is another big driver of unpaid community open source in the enterprise.
Although it will to some extent, OpenLogic is not looking to compete with Red Hat or other Linux vendors and supporters as much as provide unique support for open source software that is gaining interest and use in the enterprise. The company cites customer demand as the reason for the offering and for starting with CentOS. OpenLogic plans in 2010 to add other community distro support, which consists of an SLA support package of indemnification, incident support, unlimited sockets or CPUs, and VM support.
There are plenty of other organizations adding CentOS to their offerings and support. While we’ve covered support from hardware vendors, particularly HP — which this year launched a community Linux support site — we have also seen virtualization and cloud computing-focused vendors that have also turned to CentOS and other community Linux distributions. Part of the trend of community Linux in the cloud, vendors such as rPath, RightScale and Convirture have incorporated CentOS and Ubuntu into their software and support, for example.
We’ll continue to watch what’s happening with community open source software, but it seems clear that enterprise customers will be using more of it, sometimes even in official, above-board fashion. This will also mean that commercial open source software vendors will be competing even more with it, but the good news is there is a recognition from most successful open source software vendors that these are the rules of open source, and this is part of the pressure and competition that drives innovation. All in all, it seems community open source software is turning out to be quite beneficial for enterprise IT.
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