A blog for the enterprise open source community
Google, Gartner pick open, closed winnersJay Lyman, December 22, 2009 @ 1:33 pm ET
As the year draws to a close, we sure are getting some pretty sweeping assessments of open source, open standards and what openness means in today’s enterprise IT market. Google kicked things of with a thoughtful discussion of the meaning of open in today’s enterprise IT, but it included a somewhat misplaced declaration that ‘open systems win.’
We also had a thoughtful response from Gartner’s Brian Prentice, who seems to recognize the need for balance of open and closed, though isn’t it going too far to declare conversely to Google that ‘closed systems still win?’ While we’ve already gone over some discussion of whether open source has won and what that even means, I believe it is truly folly to try and pick a winner when looking at open and closed technologies. In reality, neither open source nor closed code would be what it is today without the other in enterprise IT.
One example: recent pressure on Google to open its acquired EtherPad word processor technology. I believe this situation highlights the inherent pressure to be open in today’s industry. With the advent, growth and evolution of commercial open source, customers, users, communities, developers and partners have all come to expect some degree of openness from their vendors. Similarly, open source brings with it cost savings expectations, and this has forced pricing and services adjustments for all software, whether open source or closed, open standards-based or not. In addition, we are also seeing that openness is not necessarily reliant on open source, as we recently covered.
We’ve also seen it work the other way. Proprietary vendors are increasingly adept at emulating open source, with companies such as SolarWinds leveraging true communities of developers, users and others, and forcing response from open source players. How vendors — whether it’s Google or Microsoft or Red Hat or Oracle or others — navigate and respond to these expectations and pressures is how they will be judged by customers and communities.
So while open systems may not win out every time, that doesn’t mean that closed systems should be crowned champion. This is the kind of antiquated executive thinking we still see in the industry today, albeit more seldom, thank goodness. The biggest opportunities and successes lie in balancing open source, open standards and open technology with the more traditional, closed and proprietary technology approach. To try and pick one side and rely on its success alone is a losing bet.
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