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Sun: US recession would help open source

Sun executives claim that open source will benefit as US consumer spending grinds to a halt, and that its revenues are not negatively impacted by its development of "free" software.
Written by Swati Prasad, Contributor on

Sun executives claim that open source will benefit as US consumer spending grinds to a halt, and that its revenues are not negatively impacted by its development of "free" software.

Delegates at last week's Sun Tech Days sent out a clear message to the Indian IT community -- developers have a much larger role to play in the world of free open source software (FOSS).

Over 9,000 developers attended last week's Sun Tech Days in Hyderabad, India, which was beamed simultaneously to Chennai and Bangalore.

"The world is being transformed by FOSS," Rich Green, Sun's executive vice president of software, said.

"Contrary to popular belief that open source means free and should translate into a drop in revenues, our revenues have increased by 13 percent year-on-year since we have gone predominantly open source," Green said.

He said the economic slowdown in the United States will favour open source companies. "During an economic slowdown, not everything slows down [and] IT projects will continue to be undertaken. But IT budgets will be reduced," he said, noting that companies will then turn to lower cost software options such as open source.

Green added that this offers tremendous opportunities for open source companies such as Sun. And this, in turn, would translate into a plethora of opportunities for developers in India, he said.

Sun boasts of some 652,610 developers in India, which also houses its largest developer community worldwide.

The company recently completed its acquisition of MySQL, an open source database.

Asked if he foresees the end of proprietary software in the near future, Green's answer was -- no. "I think there will always be space for proprietary software that defines new markets. But once a company establishes its position, open source is going to come in and commoditisation will become inevitable," he said.

On low-cost technologies and Sun's role in bringing such platforms to India, Green said he believes millions more will discover the Internet via mobile devices, rather than a desktop or a laptop computer.

"I am not sure if 'one-laptop-per-child' is the way the world is going to go," he added. "We have moved a lot of technology en masse from the desktop to the mobile device [and] are working on several open source technologies for the mobile phones."

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