Taking Open Source to the Next Channel Level

By Michael Vizard  |  Print this article Print


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Opinion: Taking open source to the next level in the channel, where high-margin technical services reside, requires leadership to promote open source at the application level.

Any time anybody brings up open source in the channel there's always a note of excitement because the opportunity to provide high-margin technical services around open-source solutions has always been an attractive concept to solution providers.

But despite the hype and expectations, the real potential of open source in the channel has largely gone unrealized.

This has happened for any number of reasons not limited to but including the general failure of the vendor community to come up with meaningful open-source programs for the channel. Beyond the general lackluster commitment from the vendors in the channel, the other big issue has been the lack of compelling open-source applications that provide a compelling alternative to established proprietary applications that tend to pull things like Windows or Solaris stacks behind them.

Yes, there have been tons of Linux installations, but when you look at them they tend to be limited to being file servers or some type of appliance dedicated to performing a specific function. When you look at the application server level, you tend to see a whole lot less Linux than you might expect.

To help correct this situation, a group of application providers that leverage open-source approaches to developing their applications have come together under the banner of a group called the Open Solutions Alliance. The OSA membership includes Adaptive Planning, CentricCRM, Collabnet, EnterpriseDB, Groundwork, Hyperic, JasperSoft, OpenBravo, SourceForge.Net, SpikeSource, Talend and Unisys.

The main focus of the group, according to Bill Soward, president of Adaptive Planning, is to extend the size of the market for open-source solutions by promoting standards, tools, frameworks and best practices that facilitate the deployment and interoperability of open-source applications.

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The vendor members of the group also plan to create and deliver joint marketing campaigns to counter the marketing machines of proprietary vendors and will take steps to remind open-source developers to create the types of applications that are really ready for enterprise deployment in terms of the integration technologies built into their applications.

IDC has estimated that the open-source market could grow to be worth as much as $3 billion by 2009. But if it's to come anywhere close to that it will take a lot more than the good will of IBM, Oracle and Novell to make that a reality.

For the most part, those vendors spend their time telling customers about why they should adopt Linux to run proprietary middleware instead of Windows. Very little of their marketing money is actually spent on getting people to adopt open-source technologies higher up the application stack.

What's really needed to take open source to the next level is a concerted effort by an organization that has the ability to put aside the parochial interests of its individual members to finally provide some real open-source leadership at the application level that has been sorely missing these past 10 years.

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