Open Sources Curiosity Factor Drops

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2006-04-10 Print this article Print

Opinion: Companies are starting to be perceived just like any other IT vendor.

At the very first LinuxWorld conferences I attended, in the mid-90s, anyone who even appeared to be a businessperson was stared at by the free-software masses like some kind of strange animal that had accidentally wandered into the show.

Then, as "real" companies began to exhibit, the show was treated like a validation of Linux and open source. "Look, theres IBM! That must mean something!"

Quiet but key moves suggest that LinuxWorld has become, first and foremost, a business trade show. Click here to read more.
During the last few years, LinuxWorld has become just like any other IT show: It has its share of geeks looking for cool apps and handouts, but its mainly dominated by IT professionals looking for products that can be used effectively in the enterprise.

I did notice one significant change at this years event, held April 3-6 in Boston. It wasnt the makeup of the crowd or the fact that companies such as Dell, CA and Unisys were exhibiting.

No, what I sensed was a change in the perception of open-source companies. In the past, there always seemed to be a hierarchy with open-source companies: There was Red Hat and a handful of other high-profile companies, and then there were the scores of smaller "companies" that were basically just a couple of developers.

But, in meeting after meeting at LinuxWorld, I met with open-source companies large and small—and all of them were offering high-quality enterprise-level products. And, maybe even more importantly, these companies were ready to back those products with support and services that businesses expect.

Alfresco, for example, a small startup run by former Documentum and Interwoven staff, demonstrated for me an open-source ECM (enterprise content management) platform that looks like it could go head-to-head with any commercial enterprise offering.

This is an important step in the growth and acceptance of open-source products in the enterprise. We may even soon come to a time when we dont refer to these organizations as "open-source companies" but simply as "enterprise IT companies."

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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