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The inevitable has happened. Open source has moved all the way up the enterprise stack. No longer are en-terprises contemplating whether they should use open source, but rather, where to use open source. In theory, an enterprise could use open source to deliver its entire application, information, and infrastructure portfo-lios.*1 That doesn’t mean hand crafting using the LAMP stack (Linux Apache MySQL, Perl/PHP/Python), but actually acquiring solutions for collaboration, database management, content management, application infrastruc-ture, business applications (CRM, ERP, POS), and reporting. Of course, we emphasize the “in theory,” because it is too early for a full open source strategy.



However, it’s not too early to contemplate open source beyond the traditional implementations of Web server (Apache), operating system (Linux), development tooling (Eclipse, Struts, Spring, Hibernate), J2EE run-times (Apache Tomcat, Geronimo, Axis, and JBoss), and email (Sendmail).

The natural question then is: where else should you consider open source? Since every enterprise is differ-ent, we believe it would be irresponsible to make blanket statements as to where you should, or shouldn’t, be us-ing open source. Instead, in accordance with our standard research practices, we will provide insights for you to make informed decisions for your business.

In that, we are starting with this brief report on open source considerations. In the future, when it makes sense, we will be including open source solutions in our product research. Our first forays will be in the customer portal platforms and enterprise service bus spaces.

OPEN SOURCE BASICS

Before we get into specific considerations, we start with some basics, an open source definition, some high-level pluses and minuses regarding open source adoption, and some no-brainer uses of open source.

What Is Open Source?

The Open Source Initiative*2 provides the following sound bite (OSI’s term) on open source.

Open source promotes software reliability and quality by supporting independent peer re-view and rapid evolution of source code. To be OSI certified, the software must be distributed un-der a license that guarantees the right to read, redistribute, modify, and use the software freely.

FREEDOM. The important word in the above is “freely.” To quote Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation, “‘Free software’ is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech,’ not as in ‘free beer.’”*3 In other words, not all open source software is free of charge, but there are fundamental rights pertaining to the use of open source software. Those rights are, as stated above, to read, use, modify, and redistribute the software.

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