HP: Open Source Here to Stay

Speaking at this week's O'Reilly Open Source Convention, HP's Stormy Peters discusses why businesses should consider open sourcing software.

PORTLAND—Open-source software has significantly affected Hewlett-Packards business, with its open source review board looking at between two and 10 new open-source and Linux products a week, Stormy Peters, who runs HPs open source program office, said in her keynote address here on Thursday.

In a talk titled "The Business of Open Source in the Enterprise" at the OReilly Open Source Convention (Oscon) here, Peters said open-source software is here to stay, evidenced by the growth of Linux in the server market.

Open source is not successful because it is free, as the software component comprises a small part of total costs to an enterprise, but because it is effective, she said.

In a rationale for why businesses should consider open sourcing software, Peters said it could commoditize a market they did not control; could make a product or technology pervasive; could lower the products overall cost; and could promote hardware or other value-add components.

Open sourcing could also create a custom solution for customers that would then allow companies to provide profitable services in relation to that product; it could also allow vendors to exit a business by giving the code to the community; and could allow businesses to leverage resources from others.

But there are instances when open sourcing technologies is not a good idea, particularly if the product is a control point for a company, such as Microsofts Windows domination of the desktop market, she said.

"The cost of open sourcing some products also does not justify the benefit, particularly if it involves the misdirection and refocusing of resources and if the intellectual property risk cannot be justified.