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XAwareOpen Source Business ModelsOpen SourceData Services 7 Feb 2008 7:52 AM
Dana Blankenhorn on "Plumbing" by billm

 In the post Where open source is most vital by ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn, he discusses how: 

"Open source is vital to an enterprise's data plumbing because it results in open standards. Not only does open source plumbing make standards transparent, it makes them flexible."

I added my thoughts on why tools and infrastructure software (i.e. "plumbing", as Dana calls it) are the two most successful categories for open source, and why plumbing requires a commercial open source model:

  Where open source does best

Dana, I agree with your conclusion that: "Open source is most vital in the plumbing..." I want to share some of the conclusions I reached on our two year journey moving XAware ( from proprietary data services middleware (i.e. data "plumbing" for SOA and Web 2.0)to open source. I came to see that open source fits best where the users of the software (i.e. those who want to use it because they get benefit from doing so) are software developers and implementers who have the skills and desire to contribute to an open source community. Tools and infrastructure ("plumbing") fit that definition. These are the two categories where open source software models have seen the most success. This led me to another insight. Tools, because they are used for design, maintenance, and management, can be acceptable even if they are lacking a little in reliability and support. Organic community-based open source tools can be fine. For tools, even enterprise users are a little less inclined to need "professional open source" and commercial organization(s) they can pay to ensure expertise, quality, reliability and service are available with certainty and predictability. But "plumbing" is a different matter. When the plumbing doesn't work, things get messy and expensive. As you point out with your story, users are willing to write big checks to make sure the plumbing works flawlessly - or gets fixed fast when it doesn't. Since the users and installers of IT plumbing know something about it, are willing and able to spend part of their time and talent getting their hands dirty to make it better, and want it based on standards so they can benefit from community innovation - the open source model fits. Since it's plumbing, they want to know that there is a professional commercial organization they can pay to guarantee quality, reliability, and service, so the plumbing works flawlessly - or gets fixed fast when it doesn't. Tools and plumbing are where open source is the most natural fit - plumbing is where commercial (or professional) open source is most vital. Bill Miller,
Posted by: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Posted on: 02/07/08

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