Cloud computing impact on open source software adoption

Not long ago companies were reluctant to the idea of implementing open source software on their data centres unless there were a financial crisis that limited the budget available for software acquisition or that a hacker employee were able to deploy the software using his/her knowledge.

On this particular case, when speaking about open source software, I’m referring to infrastructure software that runs on servers and provides services to a group of users on the network.

Lots of open source project with great products/solutions were backed by a confident and loyal community of users that believed on what they were developing. On the other hand we also had a lots of good open source projects with confident communities that developed great products/solutions but had a financial support from one or more companies. Companies that invested on an idea.

without caring about the source of the project, whether financed by a company or not, when a new investor came into play they found the same questions over and over. Is there a market whiling to deploy enterprise open source solutions? do they have the internal knowledge to support this kind of technologies?.

The investors finally found the answer to this questions a few years ago with the maturity of cloud computing solutions and cloud computing providers. The idea is not new, SaaS. Software as a Service were around for long time but the technology just didn’t fit the requirements.

As long as the companies adopted cloud computing for their services it was easy to open source projects to stay away of the idea of "open source" and moving to the cloud computing field. 

Players like Amazon or Rackspace are simplifying the adoption of this technologies, why?. Because it’s easier to the company behind the project to deploy their solutions on the cloud and provide their product or service for a monthly fee. With that, it made sense to everyone.

Now companies doesn’t have to run software (open source or propietary) on their premises. Just a monthly fee paid by credit card is enough. Their problems shifted from maintaing a smooth infrastructure and competent staff to control Service Level Agreements, analyse security policies and backup and recovery strategies in place from the vendor. 

The impact of the cloud computing on open source software adoption is huge because now the customers just don’t care if the software is open source or not, they just care that it works, that it’s safe and that will be available when the users need to use it. Open source projects now have the option of take their solutions to the cloud and offer those to the customers for a fair price.

Instead of what used to happen 5 years ago, the companies that financed an open source project now have a way to market their products that were not available before. With the right communication and marketing strategy they have now a broader and more global market on their hands.

We are in a time of changes when we talk about technology. Software and hardware companies should be paying attention to this changes.

Nicolás Solop  

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vmware vexpert 2010-11-12-13

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