The Changing Nature of Open Source’s Value

I recently came across this post by Gartner analyst Brian Prentice, in which talks about his perception that the “narrative” behind open source is fading away.

But let’s be clear here. While the romantic open source narrative is failing, Open Source continues to get stronger. And it’s doing so because it is becoming an integral component of modern software businesses. Gartner has been predicting that by 2011, at least 80% of all commercial software solutions will include elements of open source. That prediction is based on our observation that nearly all software vendors are finding ways to weave Open Source Software within, and around, their core offerings. It’s becoming quite common to find open source software that is tightly bound to some proprietary component – either other software or vendor-specific service offerings.

Prentice raises some interesting points, and for the most part, I agree with him. As open source has reached mainstream adoption among enterprises and IT groups globally, the truth is that the marketing pitch from vendors like ourselves is less about vendor lock-in and more about value. Open source value is about performance and flexibility at a great price – and not necessarily about freedom from lock-in.

I hear less and less from customers about vendor lock-in and more about flexibility, such as to Prentice’s point, the ability to integrate proprietary applications with open source solutions for added functionality or flexibility. And just as open source has had this fallout on the world of on-premise and SaaS software, I think you’ll see similar results down the road as cloud computing reaches mainstream adoption as well.