|By Kevin Bedell||
|September 27, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
In this issue, Bernard Golden, author of Succeeding with Open Source, discusses open source software, its pros and cons, and how to choose the right Linux implementation for your business.
What is open source software and how is it different from traditional software?
The primary difference between open source software and traditional software is the licensing conditions under which open source is distributed. Traditional software licenses tightly control the use and distribution of the software in order to ensure consistency, so they can realize revenues from license sales. This means, for example, you are usually restricted as to how many machines you may install the software on.
Open source software, by contrast, is distributed under licenses designed to encourage widespread use with few restrictions. This means you can use the software on as many machines as you choose.
Another important difference between open source and traditional software is that open source is distributed as source code, which users are encouraged to modify and redistribute. Users can modify the product to better serve their needs rather than being forced to live with the product's functionality as is. One of the few restrictions about open source is that, should you modify the product and redistribute it, you are expected to make your source changes available.
This is a general overview of open source software licenses. There are additional nuances depending upon the specific license. For most IT shops, license differences don't really mean anything because they don't modify the product and don't distribute to other organizations. If you want to know more about licenses, Larry Rosen's book Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law (Prentice Hall PTR, 2004) is an excellent reference.
Is all open source software also free?
Open source software tends to be extremely inexpensive, available on CDs at a low price, and usually also available for download at no charge. Open source products are usually not built by commercial entities but rather by informal project teams, so there is no company as such that distributes and charges for the product.
Anyone can take an open source product and distribute (and charge) for it; however, open source licenses preclude a distributor from imposing conditions on users and preventing them from further distributing the product. What this means, in effect, is that even if a commercial entity distributes an open source product at a given price, the purchaser can then make it available to others for free. Essentially, this forces distribution at no cost, or at the cost of distribution. So, open source software tends to be available at no cost.
This discussion applies to the software itself. There are many organizations that offer open source support, training, consulting, and other services, all of which have a price. Since software has virtually no marginal costs associated with additional copies, open source software tends to be free; however, open source services have significant costs like labor, marketing, and capital, and therefore are not free.
What questions should managers be asking their employees when the employees suggest using open source tools?
The most important question a manager should ask is, "How mature are the product elements our organization needs?" Because open source is so easy to download, many times implementation of the software begins before other important organization requirements like training, documentation, support, and so forth are considered. A formal process to assess the product in its entirety is important. The Open Source Maturity Model, described in Succeeding with Open Source, is a tool that enables IT shops to perform open source assessments. Without asking the question about the maturity of all the product elements, the organization runs the risk that it may be unprepared to support the product it has implemented.
What are the basic advantages and disadvantages of using open source software?
For most organizations the biggest advantages of open source are its low cost and control. We've talked about pricing already, but control can be just as important. Using open source, organizations have a lot more ability to use software in ways that work for them. They can implement as many copies as they want, rather than being limited to only installing on certain machines. Organizations can control how often and how soon they want to upgrade to a new version of the software, rather than being forced to move based on the vendor's plans. There's no vendor lock-in either, since the software is not usually provided by a commercial entity. Finally, the availability of source code means that, should it choose, the organization can modify the product to better suits its needs - no one-size-fits-all situation.
The downside to open source is implied by the answer to your third question. Open source is much more of an unbundled product compared to its commercial counterpart. The other product elements users can usually depend on (training, etc.) need to be found and assessed by the user organization. In effect, IT organizations need to take on an integration role. This integration responsibility is the flip side of the enhanced control described above: the control carries responsibility along with it.
There are so many open source software packages around. How do I know which ones are "ready for prime time"?
As noted, a formal process like the OSMM is important to determine if a given product is suitable for your organization. Relying on "buzz" or opinions expressed on product forums is dangerous because the organization's requirements aren't taken into account. Only by assessing all of the product's elements in light of the organization's requirements can it be determined if the product is "ready for prime time."
Which open source packages provide the greatest value for users in terms of overall capability and maturity?
This is a great question. Many organizations have realized excellent ROI on their Linux implementations and are eager to consider other open source packages, but aren't sure where to turn for other open source candidates. The broad coalition of major technology providers that endorsed Linux is not so obvious for other products, so it takes a bit more persistence to find good products. I call this search "reaching into second- and third-tier open source products," not so much because they're not good quality, but because they're not so well known. The best established of the lesser-known products are MySQL (www.mysql.com) and JBoss (www.jboss.org), both excellent candidates for the enterprise software stack. MySQL is a very fast SQL database, while JBoss is a fully certified J2EE application server.
The Apache Software Foundation (www.apache.org) is an umbrella organization for a number of valuable open source applications like Struts (Java Web applications), SpamAssassin (anti-spam software), and some Web services software like Axis.
Zope (www.zope.org) is an enterprise content management system designed to enable decentralized control of Web site content. Plone (www.plone.org) is a portal product built on top of Zope. Computer Associates has recently announced support for Zope and participated in the creation of the Plone Foundation.
Snort (www.snort.org) is a network Intrusion Detection System that helps organizations improve their security by doing network traffic and protocol analysis as well as packet logging and attack detection.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are over 80,000 open source products and it's impossible to keep up with all of them. The critical thing to keep in mind is that each of them must be assessed for maturity in light of an organization's requirements to ensure that the product in question will serve its intended purpose.
About Bernard Golden
Bernard Golden is the CEO of Navica.
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
Feb. 27, 2015 11:15 AM EST Reads: 791
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
Feb. 27, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,321
The IoT market is projected to be $1.9 trillion tidal wave that’s bigger than the combined market for smartphones, tablets and PCs. While IoT is widely discussed, what not being talked about are the monetization opportunities that are created from ubiquitous connectivity and the ensuing avalanche of data. While we cannot foresee every service that the IoT will enable, we should future-proof operations by preparing to monetize them with extremely agile systems.
Feb. 27, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,047
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. Learn about IoT, Big Data and deployments processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
Feb. 27, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 916
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
Feb. 27, 2015 10:30 AM EST Reads: 2,285
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Feb. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 3,128
SYS-CON Events announced today that Intelligent Systems Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1994, Intelligent Systems Services Inc. is located near Washington, DC, with representatives and partners nationwide. ISS’s well-established track record is based on the continuous pursuit of excellence in designing, implementing and supporting nationwide clients’ mission-critical systems. ISS has completed many successful projects in Healthcare, Commercial, Manufacturing, ...
Feb. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,056
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”
Feb. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 4,538
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Feb. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 3,870
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Feb. 27, 2015 09:15 AM EST Reads: 1,120
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gary Hall, Chief Technology Officer, Federal Defense at Cisco Systems, will break down the core capabilities of IoT in multiple settings and expand upon IoE for bo...
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 970
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 580
With several hundred implementations of IoT-enabled solutions in the past 12 months alone, this session will focus on experience over the art of the possible. Many can only imagine the most advanced telematics platform ever deployed, supporting millions of customers, producing tens of thousands events or GBs per trip, and hundreds of TBs per month. With the ability to support a billion sensor events per second, over 30PB of warm data for analytics, and hundreds of PBs for an data analytics archive, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Kaskade, Vice President and General Manager, Big Data & Ana...
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,131
For years, we’ve relied too heavily on individual network functions or simplistic cloud controllers. However, they are no longer enough for today’s modern cloud data center. Businesses need a comprehensive platform architecture in order to deliver a complete networking suite for IoT environment based on OpenStack. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dhiraj Sehgal from PLUMgrid will discuss what a holistic networking solution should really entail, and how to build a complete platform that is scalable, secure, agile and automated.
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,171
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,711
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,997
The Internet of Things (IoT) is causing data centers to become radically decentralized and atomized within a new paradigm known as “fog computing.” To support IoT applications, such as connected cars and smart grids, data centers' core functions will be decentralized out to the network's edges and endpoints (aka “fogs”). As this trend takes hold, Big Data analytics platforms will focus on high-volume log analysis (aka “logs”) and rely heavily on cognitive-computing algorithms (aka “cogs”) to make sense of it all.
Feb. 27, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 893
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
Feb. 27, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 2,152
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
Feb. 27, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 2,794
Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, today announced availability of Cloudian HyperStore 5.1 software. HyperStore 5.1 is an enhanced Amazon S3-compliant, plug-and-play hybrid cloud software solution that now features full Apache Hadoop integration. Enterprises can now transform big data into smart data by running Hadoop analytics on HyperStore software and appliances. This in-place analytics, with no need to offload data to other systems for Hadoop analyses, enables customers to derive meaningful business intelligence from their data quickly, efficiently and ...
Feb. 27, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 2,288