When software is open source, and perhaps free, IT managers may not feel under too much pressure to make sure that these software assets are managed as carefully as others.
That may be a mistake, though, and several companies are aiming to address this. On Monday, OpenLogic announced OpenLogic Enterprise 4.0, which is intended to reduce any risk associated with running open source by controlling and tracking more than 160 certified open source solutions.
OpenLogic sells software, stacks and support to help organisations deploy and manage open source environments. OpenLogic Enterprise 4.0, formerly known as BlueGlue, is claimed to be the first enterprise solution specifically aimed at providing a platform to manage, deploy and, in particular, track and maintain a broad library of open source software.
According to the company, Enterprise 4.0 enables a central repository of approved, certified open source products that can be deployed within the corporate firewall. Organisations can then automatically install, configure and integrate this software on remote servers and desktops with an audit trail showing which open source software has been deployed and where.
Enterprise 4.0 includes 18 new OpenLogic-certified open source products, the company says, including Geronimo, Apache Axis, POI and JLDAP.
The market for open source software management products is expanding quickly as more and more enterprises adopt open source. A high-profile entrant into his market last year was SpikeSource, a company founded by Kim Polese, previously chief executive of dot-com darling Marimba.
SpikeSource provided testing and certification services to large corporate customers for open-source stacks. These stacks are pre-integrated open-source components — tools, databases and operating systems — and the company aimed to capitalise on the boom in open source among large companies.
But last week the company announced that it was changing its strategy to focus on medium-sized customers.
"There was a realisation that there was this larger untapped opportunity with small and medium-size firms," said Joaquin Ruiz, SpikeSource's vice president of marketing. "Larger organisations, while are they are a good opportunity, have longer sales cycles."
One reason companies like SpikeSource may need to re-focus is that it is the large suppliers who are trying to dominate the open source world. Earlier this month it emerged that Dell is enjoying considerable success selling servers running Linux to corporate users, with Linux now forming 25 percent of Dell's server business worldwide and 35 percent in the UK.
Much of Dell's business is coming via its services business, the company said.
Likewise, OpenLogic sees services as the key to the corporate market, but believes they can be tricky for smaller companies to serve.
"Even though many of our largest enterprise customers have continued to increase their use of open source software, they have also been telling us that controlling the use of hundreds of open source solutions is a time- and labour-intensive process," said Steven Grandchamp, OpenLogic's chief executive. "We have created Enterprise 4.0 to address many of the challenges unique to managing open source solutions."