Is Open Source still relevant?

Clint Oram —  April 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Are you thinking about where technology is going next?  We are.  Every day.  Name the top trends in technology today.  Go ahead, list them out.  They are all over the Web these days.  Every journalist and analyst is writing about them in some way.  Our customers are deploying them.  Technology companies are either leading the discussion about them or working hard to catch up.

Those technology trends are:  Mobile, Social, Cloud & Big Data

But wait a minute.  What about Open Source?  How come that isn’t in the list?  Is Open Source even relevant in today’s technology discussion?

You bet it is.  Open Source is more relevant than ever.  Let’s look at these top four technology trends in more detail.

Mobile is powered by Open Source
Mobile phones and tablets are changing the way we live.  From mapping your next route on Google Maps to friends poking you on Facebook to becoming mayor of your favorite restaurant on Foursquare to conference calls with others around the world, your smart phone has become your 24×7 link to everybody.  Between the iPhone and Android, the giants in smart phone technology are driving one of the most profound changes in how we connect.

Not surprising to anybody, open source plays a big role in the mobile world. The open source vs proprietary lines have been clearly drawn.  Apple has their proprietary iOS and Google has their open source Android operating system.  Both have built impressively large ecosystems.  One open.  One a “walled garden”.   One clearly open source.  One clearly not.

Or is it?

What you may not know is that every Apple iPhone runs open source.  Go ahead, take a look at the open source libraries included in iOS.  In fact, Apple has their own Apple Public Source License because, like every other major software company today, they too create open source software.

No matter how you look at it, the top mobile technologies are powered by open source.

Social is powered by Open Source
With Facebook and Twitter causing thumbs to fly non-stop across mobile keyboards, social technology is quickly becoming the glue of our modern Web 2.0 society.  Humans are social animals. We like to talk. We like to know what’s going on.  We like to stay connected.  Whether its social networking, social media or social CRM, highly interactive and hyper-colalborative social technology is connecting us in ways that only Sci-Fi authors could have thought of just 10 years back.

But what is powering social technology?  You guessed it.  Open Source.

  • Facebook creates and uses open source in their software. That’s 800 million users using open source everyday to stay connected.
  • Twitter creates and uses open source in their software.  They have 450 million users.
  • LinkedIn creates and uses open source.  Another 150 million users.

Cloud is powered by Open Source
If mobile and social are changing the way people connect, the cloud is how software companies are delivering that change.  And like mobile, two types of cloud ecosystems are developing.  A proprietary ecosystem in Amazon AWS and open source ecosystems in OpenStack, Eucalyptus and CloudStack.  Again, one side open source.  The other side proprietary.

Or is it?

If you’ve looked under the covers of Amazon AWS, you know that open source powers AWS.  Amazon RDS is powered by MySQL, an open source database.  The Amazon Linux AMI is one of the most commonly deployed virtual machines on Amazon.  And of course SugarCRM runs on Amazon AWS.

Big Data is powered by Open Source
Big Data brings a big promise.  It enables data warehousing, data mining, data analytics and much more at a significantly reduced cost.  In a world where storing terabytes is no big deal, Big Data is how you find answers in a sea of data.  Whether you look at the commercial open source Big Data vendors like Cloudera or Neo Technology or the open source projects behind Big Data like Hadoop and MongoDB, open source is powering Big Data in a big way.

So is Open Source still relevant?  You bet it is.

Clint Oram

Posts

Co-founder and CTO, SugarCRM

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