Reuven Cohen has an interesting post up on Forbes' site, which asks, "Free Versus Open: Does Open Source Software Matter in the Cloud Era?" He writes: "I like open source as much as the next guy but, from a value proposition standpoint, just being 'open source' doesn’t sound all that compelling to me. This has become especially true in the emerging cloud computing landscape where APIs and Big Data have become some of the most valuable currencies." In fact, though, as the transition to the cloud and Big Data continue, open source software is playing an absolutely critical role.
Cohen notes that Big Data has become one of the "most valuable currencies," but isn't the open source Hadoop platform--used to sift insights from extremely large data sets--one of the flagship pieces of software driving the Big Data trend? Hadoop has given rise to promising startup companies such as Hortonworks, focused on training and services surrounding it.
Meanwhile, on the cloud computing front, open source platforms such as OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus are presenting important alternatives for companies that want more flexibility than proprietary clioud platforms provide. There is a whole ecosystem of open source tools taking shape around these.
And, as cloud computing proliferates, let's not forget that Google, Yahoo! and many of the most successful Internet companies have built themselves around open tools, and made important contributions to FOSS. Let's take Yahoo, for example.