The Power of and Threat to Open Source

The Power of and Threat to Open Source

Open Data

Everyone is now jumping on the band wagon of Open Source and many are now extolling its virtues that would not have touched it with a barge pole a number of years ago. Open source is now seen to be ‘main stream’ and ‘good for everything’ more or less. This is the case but we should look at why this has happened as history has a chance of repeating itself to a degree.

Mainframe Manufacturers

Many years ago, the market was owned by a small number of large mainframe manufacturers including IBM, Digital and HP to name the three that first come to mind. They essentially gouged customers for money as the customers didn’t really have an alternative. An expensive move to another proprietary hardware and operating system that was probably eventually costing as much wasn’t a very positive market opportunity.


Roll onto the stage the upstart Microsoft who IBM more or less gifted the market to probably due to a combination of ignorance and arrogance. Business started using Microsoft first for personal reasons but as business saw the relative costs involved, they began to flock to this new and cheaper technology. Microsoft built a massive business on this, however, they too got greedy (or was it arrogant and ignorant) and saw the start of open source as being something that would never unhinge them.

How wrong they were as open source is now gaining ground in all organisations and is now a real competitor to the Microsoft platform.

Many who want open source say they want it because of cost and choice but it would seem there is something more subtle taking place.

Free, Enterprise and Premium Support

Many organisations will only use software where there is a community (=free) version, however, once software has a free version, many will happily pay for the ‘Enterprise Edition’ or ‘Premium Support’.

In most cases companies are no longer tied into one single supplier who can ask what they want for this contract; there’s normally always the potential to go ‘down the road’ to the next company supporting the same software in the same away.

Free, Enterprise and Premium Support

There is a ‘but’ here as we see more companies adding ‘special features’ to the open source software for their client companies to help address issues with the software. This is the start of the slippery slope into dependence on one supplier who can then ask what they want to support the software.

Let’s hope suppliers don’t get greedy and send this open source revolution the way that other suppliers who felt they had the market cornered went in the past.


Learn more about open source here

Author - John Power - CEO Ostia Solutionslinkedin-badge-for-email



Written by : John Power