Open source technologies become kingmakers in enterprise

New workloads are going to enterprise technologies with open source at the core. That reality means that the vendor pecking order is about to be recast in favor of companies like Red Hat.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Open source has become the new fast track to enterprise credibility both for incumbents and any vendor playing in the space. And that reality is going to reorder the vendor pecking order.

This past week highlighted the momentum in enterprise open source technologies.

Red Hat at its user conference outlined a series of announcements ranging from its container-based OpenShift platform to a mobile software deal with Samsung to security and analytics offerings.

Docker has lined up a series of partnerships with momentum that continues to build. IBM, Google and a bevy of others are supporting Docker, which allows developers to put applications in containers and move around easily, as well as aiming to support similar technologies.

And before those aforementioned news developments it was Apple moving to open source its Swift program language with IBM's support. Toss in the ongoing momentum for OpenStack, Hadoop and CloudFoundry and it's clear that new workloads are moving to open source technologies.

At Red Hat's analyst meeting, the company highlighted the number of open source projects.


In fact, whether a technology is open source is quickly becoming the first screen for enterprises. Why? Enterprises don't want to be locked in over time. Proprietary technologies can become an innovation dead-end. Should a vendor coast on the innovation front customers are going to suffer. The cloud changes that equation a bit, but not totally.

Every vendor sees the open source realities that are emerging. In fact, many vendors with proprietary technologies---VMware, Microsoft, EMC, Cisco and IBM to name just a few---are embracing open source in some form. These companies are taking open source technology and wrapping their tools around it. Some vendors such as IBM have more credibility in the open source community than others, but the general theme is the same. If a vendor wants to entice you to buy its software, hardware and services there has to be open source in there somewhere.

It remains to be seen if this embrace and extend strategy with open source technologies works over time. My hunch is that the approach will flop for some vendors and their customers.

One thing seems clear to me: Red Hat's history in open source is giving it an edge and positioning it to be more strategic in the enterprise.

Credit Suisse analyst Sitikantha Panigrahi said in a research note:

We believe that the continued momentum of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, coupled with growing adoption of open source in enterprises, has enabled Red Hat to increasingly upsell its emerging products.

Other vendors are going to struggle---especially since they are known more for their proprietary lock-in. VMware has a history of connecting to open source tools so it should fair well. Parent company EMC needs to earn credibility in open source---a point noted when the storage giant recast its ViPR Controller technology as an open source project. SAP said its HANA will work with Hadoop, but rest assured that the move is because the company had little choice unless it wants its analytics restricted to a silo. Teradata moved faster and earlier to support Hadoop and partner.

We'll see how this turns out, but the bottom line is obvious. Without an open source project at the core of an enterprise technology vendors will be facing a prolonged and difficult selling cycle.

The top 10 leaders driving open-source tech

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

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