open source

New Leadership in Open Source

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The economic challenges of 2009 will not be soon forgotten. In the information technology market, there are a number of companies borrowing, cashing out or just holding tight. But, I believe we will start to see a real recovery in 2010 – and the IT industry will then forever work within a new economic reality.

Driven by this new economic psyche, CIOs will act differently. In the coming year, I expect open source principles to become even more mainstream, and I predict there will be a new set of open source leaders and newcomers to usher in the next era of IT.

The CIO’s Vendor Perspective is Forever Altered

As a collaborator in The Future of Open Source Forum, Jaspersoft has been taking a closer look at what the coming year will bring for open source in advance of next week’s Open Source Business Conference.

We believe that as the economy recovers in 2010, the ultimate result on the IT market will be positive. While IT spending forecasts show some growth in the year ahead, they will remain lower than pre-recession levels. Gartner, for instance, most recently predicted a 4.6% year-over-year IT spending growth for 2010.

This frugal spending environment is surely prompting CIOs to think differently about the way they acquire and deploy software. Times like these are also when we see the greatest innovations in technology, because we’re all forced to work harder and produce better products, technologies and services.

CIOs at companies large and small can no longer spend seven figures on software on the hope that it will create positive ROI down the road. The economy has demanded that CIOs rethink their approach to software acquisition and investments and are looking more than ever before to subscription pricing, open source alternatives and participation in the development of the software they use.

Software development and delivery models such as open source, SaaS, cloud solutions and virtualization have all achieved a level of maturity that allows CIOs to depend on them and never look back.

Because of this, budgets will never reach the bloated levels seen prior to 2008. Projects going forward will require more controlled, cost-effective incremental milestones with greater control in the hands of IT managers.

And, because of this greater regimen and altered perspective of those vendors that supply IT, the CIO’s position will re-build credibility and re-earn its strategic seat at the table. I’ve talked with plenty of CIOs who share this belief and I’m eager to hear your comments and stories, too.

Open Source Principles Become Mainstream

Open source software will continue to have a significant impact on the IT industry. Over the last decade, we witnessed its emergence and immediate mass adoption, substantially disrupting the economics of IT. Now what?

More surely in 2010, and then for years to come, we will see the principles of open source – transparency, community participation and collaboration – become entrenched in the mainstream tech sector. Beyond just the rhetoric of “community building”, the advantages of truly being part of a more vibrant, organic technology development and utilization process will prove far too important to all software and technology companies. The proven benefits will drive imitation.

So, embracing the principles of open source will become expected in 2010 – and appear in a number of forms. Watch for more open APIs from companies of every stripe in order to extend the reach of their products. Even these open source newbies will use community development models to prompt a collaborative dialog and gain much greater familiarity with those using and extending their software.

Finally and specifically, two major developments will unravel during 2010 that will illustrate the reach of open source principles: the rise of Android-based phones and Google Wave. I wrote about Google Wave in 2009 and stand by my praise. This open set of web services that can synthesize the variety of social and collaborative tools is a shining example of what openness can bring to bear. And, Android will genuinely give Apple’s closed iPhone and Research In Motion’s closed BlackBerry platform some real competition, driving volumes that will earn its place in the mobile device market and help drive the principles of open source into the mainstream at the same time.

I’m sure you have more examples for open source principles to impact the mainstream and I’d like to see your comments.

New Leaders in the Next Era

I believe the landscape of open source companies will substantially change in the next year with continued acquisitions, one IPO and some new upstarts becoming high flyers. Some may wonder if a return to a stronger economy will spell softer times for open source software, meaning: will IT organizations and developers return to the sinful spending of the past? I say absolutely not. The benefits of the open source model are too well-aligned with the new needs of IT and developers to be so easily abandoned.

So, the now-legitimate open source model combined with a return to a stronger economy will lead to even better growth and financial results for leading open source companies. In this sense, the strong and well-built open source companies will get stronger: Ingres, Alfresco, SugarCRM, Talend and Jaspersoft, for example, will reach new heights.

And, relative open source newcomers who can substantially disrupt in their sector will make big gains as well. I believe these up-and-comers will gain new and deserved center stage profile.

Lastly, I also believe that some even earlier-stage open source software companies will come on the scene strongly, becoming the new “ones to watch”, starting this year.

The Open Source Center Stage

Watch for these companies to break away, driving real disruption in their sectors.

  • Acquia – the commercial open source extension of the Drupal project is doing for web content management what Alfresco is already doing in the enterprise content management. Have you heard of a substantial web site being built recently that wasn’t using Drupal? Acquia stands to gain handily from this trend.
  • MindTouch- with fierce and varied competition in the wiki collaboration space, it’s clearly a tricky segment to pick a winner. But MindTouch has managed to make huge inroads to serve both open source and commercial communities with its open core business model. And it has differentiated its product with both a service-oriented architecture, key for mashing up content with other systems, and with its friendly GUI designed for business users.
  • Wavemaker – 2010 just might be the year to crown WaveMaker the “PowerBuilder for the web” (a reference to the most successful client/server 4GL tool of the 1990s). Building and deploying advanced, web-based apps quickly and efficiently is critical to the next-generation internet and Wavemaker just may hold the key.

The Newest Ones to Watch

You may not have heard of these companies yet, but you will in 2010.

  • BonitaSoft – after years of design and development to provide a commercial open source business process management system, this product won the Open Innovation Award in Paris in 2009.
  • Lucid Imagination - an enterprise search tool, built on the remarkably popular Lucene engine and financed by notable investors, it’s hard to see where this will go wrong.
  • zAgile - finally a commercial open source tool that enables collaborative software engineering, this product should expand the market led by CollabNet and many proprietary options (including IBM, Oracle, Borland and Microsoft). Looks like some disruption is coming soon.

In 2010, the open source software landscape will continue to shift and change, but you can count on consistently strong innovation and disruption. Which companies do you think I’ve missed? Who will make a new open source mark in 2010? Your comments are welcome.

Brian Gentile is CEO of Jaspersoft , open source business intelligence company and creator of the JasperForge open source development site for community projects. This article originally appeared as posts on the 2010 Future of Open Source Forum blog.

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