The new stack

Cloud computing, big data and mobile are driving enterprises to redefine their software stack.

Open source will be a huge part of that.

But why open source?

It is usually not any one single reason that drives open source adoption, but a combination of factors that lead to the open source decision.

Innovation speed

Open source software tends to innovate faster than proprietary counterparts. Successful open source projects draw contributions from large numbers of developers and users. Some contribute to the core product, while others work on periphery areas like SDKs or connectors to other technologies.

The accumulation of this community participation accelerates delivery of the key features and ecosystem that enterprises need. The result is that open source usually delivers better, faster moving products than competitive, proprietary alternatives. Open source allows for a more natural adoption approach within the enterprise. It is free and generally easy to download, install, and get started with. This allows easy exploration of and experimentation with new technologies and allows enterprises to get comfortable with the software on smaller, non-mission-critical projects before any financial commitment is required.

This bottoms-up approach provides teams more control and is far less risky and more natural than the typical proprietary software approach that is slower, top-down and requires a big financial commitment much earlier in the process.

Community spirit

Additionally, the communities that arise around open source projects are inherently helpful, easy and free to engage. These communities include developers, administrative and operations experts, who want to solve problems and share experiences, code snippets, plugins and more.

Theoretically there is no reason proprietary user groups could not evolve to be more like open source communities, but the “open” ethos of the companies and communities behind open source projects almost always produce far more supportive communities than the “closed” ethos of the companies and user groups around proprietary software.

Another key advantage of open source is that it does not “lock-in” a user as much as proprietary software does. Customers using paid versions of open source take comfort in the option to revert to free versions if they don't feel they get sufficient value from their vendor.


Posted by Bob Wiederhold

Bob served as President and CEO of Couchbase from 2010 to 2017. Until an acquisition by IBM in 2008, Bob served as chairman, CEO, and president of Transitive Corporation, the worldwide leader in cross-platform virtualization with over 20 million users. Previously, he was president and CEO of Tality Corporation, the worldwide leader in electronic design services, whose revenues and size grew to almost $200 million and had 1,500 worldwide employees. Bob held several executive general management positions at Cadence Design Systems, Inc., an electronic design automation company, which he joined in 1985 as an early stage start-up and helped to grow to more than $1.5 billion during his 13 years at the company. Bob also headed High Level Design Systems, a successful electronic design automation start-up that was acquired by Cadence in 1996.

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