Monday, November 14, 2005

Business Person's Understanding of Open Source Software

I have been involved, from mostly a user's perspective, with open source software, in an enterprise setting, for the last five years. Over this time, I have dealt with lot's of misunderstandings, and sometimes plain ignorance of open source software. What is it? Is it any good? Should you ever use it? Is is safe? Who writes it? How do you get support? You name it, and I have had the questions.

Having said that, I thought I was past most of the questioning, but something popped up recently that caught me by surprise. It was again, a complete lack of understanding of open source software vs. traditional closed source software.

So once again, I find myself answering questions about open source software, and educating people on its merits, the business models that open source companies use. What companies like JBoss, Inc. call "Professional Open Source". Also, how pervasive, and even dependent we have become on open source software.

I find it awesome that 70% of all publicly accessible web servers are running the Apache web server. Of that 70%, 77% of those are running the Linux operating system. How Linux, which is certainly the most well know open source project is growing faster than any operating system, and continues to mature in all respects so quickly.

I am also a big proponent of Java, at least in an enterprise context, and I love the fact that the BZ Research survey shows JBoss as the number one application server in their survey. I saw another survey that was based on 95 Fortune 1000 companies, and it showed 23% of those companies were deploying JBoss as their application server.

I am also very encouraged by the SugarCRM project, and company, as they have built a customer base of some 300 companies already. I never would have thought that open source application software could be successful. Just goes to show you, that open source is here to stay, and it transcends any limits we may have thought it had.

Even with all of these examples, and open source companies, like Red Hat, JBoss, MySQL, SugarCRM, and others finding success, that business person's still need to be educated on open source software.

Have you experienced this, and if so, how did you deal with it? I have lot's of research that I have collected, that give fact based explainations for all of the questions I have received, but it would be nice to see what others have collected and used in support of open source software.

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