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Open Source in MDM

Editor's Note: If MDM is on your mind, don't forget to attend ebizQ's upcoming roundtable discussion on MDM and SOA.

The open source software (OSS) community contributes the leading web server to the market (the Apache HTTP project, as measured by instances) and one of the fastest growing operating systems (although this metric fluctuates between the Linux derivative of UNIX, OS/X and Windows per quarterly IDC data, Linux has tended to claim the distinction more quarters than not this decade).  The community has also made a contribution to social computing and other personal-productivity and non-enterprise computing requirements. 

More telling, in these functionality areas, the projects have tended to spring from small true OSS community efforts rather than large software companies that devote developers to the open source community to save research and development expenses or smaller for-profit companies that use OSS terms and conditions (Ts&Cs) as part of their business model.

Master data management (MDM) is the exception that proves the rule.  IT Investment Research analysis can find very few small OSS communities working on MDM whereas ‘OSS market’ leaders Red Hat and Sun have major MDM development efforts underway. (‘OSS market’ is in quotes because close readers of my research will remember that I believe such a market measurement is contrived.) A June 2008 survey found that the up and comers in MDM are ignoring open source Ts&Cs in a way not seen in any other software category including major application categories such as ERP.  The first movers in MDM—for example, Amalto, Dataflux, IBM, Initiate Systems, Kalido, Microsoft, Object River, Oracle, SAP, Siperian—are all choosing more traditional Ts&Cs to both develop and market their products. It is especially unusual in the software industry today that so few of the startups and near startups are not embracing open source. Looking at it from the community perspective, leading open source organizations such as the Apache Software Foundation have no MDM-specific activity underway (although some Apache projects may incorporate MDM).


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