I have been doing FOSS as a developer for more than twenty years now; 15 of those FOSS has also been my job. The perception of FOSS has changed quite a bit over the years but we are still facing some obstacles in the world of enterprise IT. I plan to do an series of entries highlighting some of the advantages and also some of the challenges FOSS faces in those environments.
In the beginning FOSS developers and users were considered freaks, nothing to rely on for your business IT needs. But then some early adopters realized that they could save a lot of money by migrating parts or all of their infrastructure to FOSS. And more and more companies started using the internet. In doing that, they didn't fail to notice that a large part of that internet ran on FOSS anyway.
Nowadays FOSS is no longer a niche product, it has arrived as a commodity and is part of the normal decision making in smaller and larger companies, right? Well, not so fast.
Yes, to some extent FOSS has become mainstream, but there are still a lot of areas where perception is mixed and there is still a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) being spread. Back in the day, decisions against FOSS were made by simply denying the sustainability of a community approach. It appears that this has changed quite a bit across the board.
However, that does not mean the same approach is no longer used against FOSS, or at least the community based FOSS that was the origin of it all. The other day I saw a proposal for a migration of several proprietary applications to Open Source done by somebody who claimed to be an Open Source specialist. All was well except that no single community driven FOSS project was even listed as an option. All The Open Source tools they listed were run by a company and the proposal even listed the prices for their however defined contracts.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind these commercial Open Source approaches at all. They can present many advantages for the users deciding to go with this type of software. I am even perfectly fine with people making the decision to go proprietary. However, I'd like the users to be able to make the decision knowing all the facts. Telling them that commercial Open Source is the only way Open Source works is not correct.
Stay tuned for more insights on what happens in the Open Source market.
Please note, that I'm going to use the terms Open Source, Free Software and FOSS (Free and Open Source) almost interchangeably. I am aware of the subtle differences and will make sure to use the right term when those differences matter.