Impact of Open Source on Software Industry
We’ve looked at how open source delivers cost savings, and the top reasons for choosing open source: quality of code and business agility (or, to quote from this article How Open Source Software is Eating the Software World, “major advantages open source has in quality, security and innovation”). What impact is this having on interplay between open source and the software industry as we used to know it?
Increased investment and wide adoption
Clearly, open source is being adopting in every sector and at a rapidly increasing pace. One measure of this is the leap in investment in open source: in 2012 $553m was invested, an 80% increase on the previous year (according to this report).
Consider the platforms across which open source is deployed: mobile, content management, server management, telecoms, to name just a few. To have such change in so many technical arenas simultaneously is more or less unprecedented. This article in The Raynor Report describes such change as “as disruptive as disruptive gets” and “fundamentally different”. In a slug-it-out between open source and the software industry of yore, we know where we’d place our bets.
Adapt or die
To return to the impact on proprietary software houses, the threat is hard to ignore, despite these companies’ efforts to dismiss open source. As The Raynor Report article says:
The technology companies that don’t embrace the major open-source movements will be destroyed. The ones that embrace them will succeed.
It’s one of those crossroads moments when companies have to decide whether to adapt or wither. Traditional companies are starting to lose developers to more attractive open source development platforms. Almost every new technology emerging has an open source basis, steadily eroding the market share of those companies used to dominating the market. It would be nice to think open source and the software industry in its proprietary form could co-operate, but the old business model of divide and rule prevents this in many cases.
And those companies not developing the software, but running their business systems on them? Open source is being endorsed from the very top of these companies, in every sector and around the world. This directly takes business away from the traditional operators.
Public sector openomics
It’s a widely-held belief and frequently reported that government will see the biggest transformation from the adoption of open source. Consider the traditional models of government IT adoption: several enormous companies have long held public administrations in the vice-like grip of vendor lock-in. As governments free themselves of this, these proprietary companies will have to make money on their merits, not because of a lucrative contract guaranteed to benefit Megacorp far more than anyone else involved in the project, let alone the poor end user. How refreshing to see that era slowly coming to an end.