During a session at the Open Source Business Conference, called "CXO Crossfire," several a panelists debated a number of questions related to open source. Actually it was more of a discussion, with executives representing buyers and four the sellers. The first question was “Oracle—friend or foe?”
Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL responded that “Oracle created the market [for open source databases] by having a highly priced product and is now embracing open source full force. We look forward to partnership and collaboration with Oracle.” Now that Oracle acquired InnovDB and Sleepcat, that's a good idea.
Tim Golden, a senior vice president at Bank of America, said that Oracle is riding two horses and has a proactive strategy to eliminate competition, but may be developing a market around open source.
The rules are changing as a result of open source, publisher and pundit Tim O’Reilly chimed in. “One of the consequences of open source is that software is being commoditized and now companies like eBay and Google will be more significant players. The deck chairs are moving around and new players are building on top of open source.”
As a result of open source, more proprietary vendors will open source their code, Mikos said, some out of desperation and others out of reason. Sean Maloney of Ticketmaster advised purveyors of commercial software to embrace open source and provide transparency and focus on delivering quality of service and innovation to have a lucrative business. “Ignore the demands of buyers at your peril,” he warned.
SugarCRM CEO John Roberts said that open source code is designed to be read and reviewed in public. “It’s a different philosophy than writing code in a closed cubicle. Just because you throw a million lines of C++ code into open source doesn’t mean that a community will get involved,” Roberts said.
On the issue of what is the most valuable attribute of open source, Golden said that his thinking has evolved over time. “It was cost in the beginning, but now functionality is edging out cost. [Open source] is now blossoming into other areas, not just software but development methodology. Those who adopt those ideas can drive innovation, and now with open source end users and consumers can drive and capitalize on their own ideas.”
Nancy Faigen, general manager of Linux at Novell, agreed that cost was tantalizing as an early benefit, but said that most companies she talks to are concerned about vendor lock-in. Going forward she believes open source will be more about high quality software.
O’Reilly predicted that over time use of the blended model—using both open and closed source—will increase. “We will see all models in all levels of the enterprise. What company offers a compelling product at compelling prices will be more important, and how they got there will be less and less of an issue.”