Can closed source survive?

Open source is going to become the norm. Just as we no longer talk about e-commerce, just commerce, we will wonder in five years why anyone assumes their source should be closed.

The interview with Dave Dargo, chief technology officer at Ingres, had a provocative headline: "Ingres predicts the end of open source."

But the story itself was even more provocative. What Dargo was saying is that open source is going to become the norm. Just as we no longer talk about e-commerce, just commerce, we will wonder in five years why anyone assumes their source code should be closed.

Dargo had reason to be smug. The company, which spun-out of Computer Associates last year, has just hired Bill Maimone away from Oracle as its new "chief architect."

While the database space argues between open source advocates such as mySQL and closed source advocates such as Oracle, Dargo said Ingres is trying to evolve a "subscription model," where the money you pay for support and updates really goes into delivering support services and new functionality.

Note that Dargo isn't talking about free software. He's talking about a demonstrable link between the money you pay for code and the work that comes back to you. It's not software as a free good Dargo is promoting, but a cost-based pricing model.

The argument is appealing, even sound. The question, as always, is whether Ingres' Dargo, and now Maimone, can deliver.

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