May 4, 2016

RedMonk Analyst: Open Source is Good for Business [Video]

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The view from Collaboration Summit 2016 in Lake Tahoe, California.
The view from Collaboration Summit 2016 in Lake Tahoe, California.

The technology industry is changing fast – much faster than we've seen in the past – due to the proliferation of high quality, free and open source software, said Stephen O'Grady, co-founder and principal analyst at RedMonk, in his keynote talk at Collaboration Summit in March. Developers have access to open source technologies without asking for permission.

“All of a sudden, for the first time, if I want to build anything, if I'm a developer, if I have an idea, I can just go do that,” O'Grady said. “I don't need to go justify to my boss, "Hey, I need to buy a license for an operating system. Hey, I need to buy a license for a database," and so on. I can just go do it. This changes everything. This is a change that all of you have lived, all of you have helped fuel.”

Developers are empowered, for the first time in history, to make decisions that traditionally were made by IT managers, CIOs, and other executives. And that means that open source is now the way business is getting done, O'Grady said, whether managers know it or not.

At the same time, the bulk of commercial sales are still closed source, he said, with the exception of Red Hat, which has built a $2 billion business on open source.

“There's a long way to go,” he said.

The software business model has evolved quite a bit since IBM was founded in 1911, when software was just an incentive for selling more hardware. In 1975, Microsoft turned software into a good that could be sold, independly of hardware. And then in the 1990's, at companies like Google, software became differentiating.

Today large web companies like Facebook and Twitter see software as non-differentiating with large segments (though not all) of their software released as open source.

“These are the folks that basically look at this and say, "Hey, this is a good model." Our model for developing software is collaborative. Our model for developing software is open,” O'Grady said. “These are smart people, they sat down and looked at the numbers, looked at the business case and said, "Yeah, this makes perfect sense. Let's do this."

Open source software has evolved to the point at which it makes a good foundation on which to build a business.

“The economics behind open source, and the changes that it will essentially (bring to) your business,” he said, “the impact that it will have over time is enormous.”

Watch Stephen O'Grady’s full keynote, below, for more trends in the business of open source.

And view all 13 keynote videos from Collaboration Summit, held March 29-31 in Lake Tahoe, California.

More from Collaboration Summit:

Read Why Using a Cloud Native Platform Transforms Enterprise Innovation, a summary of the keynote by Cornelia Davis, CTO of the transformation practice at Pivotal who works on the open source Cloud Foundry platform.

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