Panel: Weakening Economy Good for Open Source

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-03-25 Print this article Print

The absence of money is a big catalyst for innovation, particularly around open-source solutions, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth said.

SAN FRANCISCO-Experience has shown a weakening U.S. economy would be good for open source, as a shortage of cash is usually a major catalyst for innovation, particularly around open-source applications, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux, said at the annual Open Source Business Conference here March 25.

Roger Burkhardt, president and CEO of open-source database firm Ingres, agreed, noting that as the economy slows, budgets tighten and people have to do more with less.  Also concurring was Zak Olaf, vice president of products at MySQL, who said the lower cost of open source is part of its appeal in an economic climate such as the current one.

They were all speaking on a panel titled "The Future of Open Source: Exploring the Investments, Innovations, Applications, Opportunities and Threats."  They were also responding to the findings of North Bridge Venture Partners' annual "Future of Open Source" survey, which found that 81 percent of respondents thought economic turbulence is good for open source.

The survey also found that lower acquisition and maintenance costs, access to libraries of code, and freedom from vendor lock-in are the factors that make open-source software most attractive. 

"We are also now at the tipping point, where people are actually starting to examine at what point and for what reasons they would now use proprietary software. They are now looking for reasons to justify using proprietary solutions rather than open-source ones," Shuttleworth said.

What can open source learn from Microsoft? Find out here. 

The survey respondents also believe that in five years between 25 percent and 50 percent of purchased software will be open source, and that another open-source company with the stature of Red Hat will emerge in two years.

With regard to who will command the majority of commercial non-consulting open-source revenue in 2012, some 35 percent of respondents said platform vendors such as Oracle, Sun and SAP; just over 20 percent said it will be conglomerates like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo; 18 percent said consortia working together on interoperability; and 15 percent said pure platform plays such as Red Hat.

Software as a service will have the greatest impact on software delivery and/or business models for operating system applications and middleware vendors, some 50 percent of respondents believe, with about 25 percent saying this will be virtualized infrastructure, more than 15 percent believing it will be cloud computing, and less than 10 percent giving software appliances the nod.

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


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel