OReilly Gazes Into the Future of Open Source

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-09 Print this article Print

There has been an enormous paradigm shift around open source, Tim O'Reilly told attendees at this week's open source convention.

PORTLAND—There has been an enormous paradigm shift around open source, Tim OReilly, president of OReilly & Associates Inc., said in a keynote address here on Wednesday. Addressing hundreds of attendees at the OReilly Open Source Convention (Oscon) here, he said that the shift started when IBM introduced the first PC, with change in the PC industry now driven by low-cost hardware and the commodity model. Software has also become decoupled from the hardware, resulting in a power shift in the PC industry toward software firms and seeing Microsoft emerge as the most powerful company in the computer industry, he said.
The new rules governing the Internet paradigm shift are based on the fact that an open architecture inevitably leads to interchangeable parts; competitive advantage and revenue opportunities move "up the stack" to services above the level of a single device; information applications are decoupled from both hardware and software; and lock-in is based on data and not on proprietary software, he said.
"The deep trends shaping the future of all software can be summarized by three-Cs: software is becoming a commodity, it is being customized by users, and we are seeing network-enabled collaboration," OReilly said. While Google, Amazon and PayPal are "killer applications" running on Linux, they do not fit the old model and so are not thought about as applications. "These applications are being built by open-source developers and run on an open-source platform, but most of them are fiercely proprietary, and the source code is not distributed, which would not be useful to most developers even if it were," he said. In addition, collaboration techniques are increasingly being applied to proprietary software, as is evident in the rise of one of Microsofts flagship products, ASP .Net, which looks very much like an open-source project. "With a large enough development organization, Open Source Software-like behaviors emerge. If its happening inside Microsoft, its happening everywhere," OReilly said. A lot of people are also worried that if software becomes a commodity, it would herald the end of intellectual property. But the industry is just in the throes of working out what the new business model would be, he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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