Responding to that question was the task of a panel of heavy hitters at the Web Services/SOA on Wall Street conference on Feb. 27.
Hiram Chirino, co-founder and director of architecture at LogicBlaze Inc., of Marina del Ray, Calif., said the convergence of Web services, SOA and open source is exactly what his company is all about.
In fact, LogicBlaze is in the process of building out a new suite offering of SOA infrastructure software that the company will deliver within a couple of months.
"Were going to move out a stack of our software and recommend that customers use that" for SOA deployments, Chirino said.
And noting the IT expression of having "one throat to choke" over responsibility systems, he said: "Well have one throat to choke, and it will all be based on Apache-licensed software."
Meanwhile, "I think the jurys still out," said Frank Martinez, chief executive and chief technology officer at Blue Titan Software Inc., of San Francisco, Calif.
"The good news is this is forcing commercial software companies to analyze their business models… Thats nothing but goodness for consumers."
Hub Vandervoort, chief technology officer at Sonic Software Corp., Bedford, Mass., agreed that the "jury is still out… Ive seen evidence that could support open-source models to be more expensive."
Indeed, Vandervoort said he believes that "when you buy a software license you are paying for past innovation; when you buy open source, youre investing in future innovation."
Moreover, Vandervoort said, "SOA as a concept will challenge the whole concept of one throat to choke. SOA means federation and is built from federated components that are boundless."
Han Zaunere, president of New York PHP, an organization for the Apache, MySQL and PHP community in New York, said, "The idea of having one throat to choke is a long-standing one. Theres always going to be a company out there that IT folks depend on. Its whether that company is closed or open thats the critical difference."
Yet, Vandervoort asks a question many organizations continue to ask themselves.
"Are you prepared to bet your business entirely on open source?" he asked.
"It depends on where," he said. "In less mission-critical areas that have been commoditized, yes," Vandervoort said.
"But if its for innovation you need today, youll probably reach for a vendor. For future innovation, you might rely on an open-source offering."
Blue Titans Martinez said customers should take note of who works on the open-source components they use.
"When you look at open-source prospects, whos actually going to work on them?" he asked. "Are these people considered innovators? If they are, then use them."
Martinez said companies like SpikeSource Inc. and SourceLabs Inc. act like an "Underwriters Laboratory for open source."
However, "I wouldnt look for any of these companies to provide everything end-to-end."