Open Source - Past, Present and Future


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How is Open Source positioned in the future is anybody's guess. This presentation builds upon what I presented in Interop with a couple more slides. Originally intended to be presented at CII Coimbatore, I later presented the ERP deck. This was used during a guest lecture at Bangalore Management Academy (

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  • The logos on this slide are probably very familiar to you. These are software that are marketed and sold by the big software companies today. Each and every one of them are pretty popular and have their own fan following. Some of them are ubiquitous and it is easy to fall into the false conclusion that there are no alternatives.
  • However, Gartner thinks otherwise. Last year they published a report that made some statements that galvanized the non-open source world into action. Very soon, a lot of them started doing something in the Open Source world. In fact, earlier this year in Chennai, I noticed that Microsoft was one of the sponsors of an Open Source event.
  • The logos on this page are the new world order, if I may say so. Software that will change the world. With due respect to Uday and Red Hat, I have left the FOSS major out of this slide. Nevertheless, their code is represented as CentOS which is known to be quite similar to RHEL. On this page, you'll find software for every application that we use today. Be it a desktop office application, or an enterprise library management system, there is a Free and Open Source alternative.
  • In the past, Free and Open Source used to be used extensively used in the infrastructure of IT. Be it the server OS, DNS, Mail or the Firewall, Linux based solutions used to be favoured. It still is. Today, you will notice that Open Source has permeated every known software application to man. Including the desktops, replacing eye candy operating systems. There is quite a bit of the “cool” factor in Open Source now that Windows is playing catch up in many cases. I foresee that the future is going to be nothing but Open Source. Paying for software is so outdated. You pay for services, not licenses. Red Hat has set the pace for this, and so have many of the other so called Commercial Open Source software companies. But this is increasing the way applications are going. Everything is on the Cloud these days. I am certain you would have experimented with Saas and Cloud computing, or at least contemplated experimenting with it. Most of the software on the cloud utilize Open Source heavily, in fact they rely on Open Source software and technologies to make the Cloud happen.
  • A decade ago, in October 1999, Tim O'Reilly (of the popular O'Reilly publishing house) spoke to a group of Fortune 500 executives about myths surrounding Open Source. It is my belief that many of those myths are still prevalent. He says, and I wholeheartedly agree, "It's not about Linux versus Windows". In fact, it has never been so. Open Source is beyond Linux. Open Source is about sharing, sharing with a community. Knowledge when shared and reused, will grow and expand. Open Source software innovates much faster than the closed source counterparts for the same reason. Once you share your code, you can expect others to contribute and make it better and more useful. Many people are under the impression that the main objective of Open Source software is to take on Windows and more broadly Microsoft . The Open Source developers do not think on those lines at all. Far from it, they share code because it solved some of their problems and it might do the same for others.
  • Another common myth is that there is no support for Open Source and so it is not reliable. Let me dispel that doubt with a simple example. Each and every one of us use a little bit of Open Source almost everyday. When you use your web browser to surf the Internet, your computer does not really know where those web pages are located. The URL is translated into a set of numbers called IP address by a program called Domain Name System (DNS). The central part of almost all DNS in existence today is a program called BIND, originally developed at the University of California, Berkeley. Considering how much we all use the Internet today, it is by far the most mission-critial program today. Another widely used Open Source software is Sendmail. Sendmail is the most commonly used mail server. There are many variants of Sendmail such as Postfix and Exim. All of them are Open Source too. Some of us might remember the very early web browser Netscape and the company that developed it, also of the same name. The University of California was developing the NCSA web server. Netscape hired the entire technical staff of the university which developed the NSCA webserver. A group of users who were already using the web server come together informally as a group who predominantly used an Internet mailing list to collaborate and work on the software. They created "A Patchy Server", today commonly known as Apache Server. Apache server is used by an overwhelming majority today. According to Netcraft's web server survey of September 2009, Apache is running on 66.95% of the web servers. The closest competitor is Microsoft with about 17.9%. Remember that support is actually free, in many cases. Developers forum, internet mailing lists, archives and support databses. All free and very collaborative. The flip side is that you don't have a single neck to chop if something goes wrong. There are paid support options available for most Open Source software.
  • Yes, there are risks to Open Source software. Security, quality and support are not the risks. You run the risk of an Open Source project discontinuing. On the other hand, this is common in the closed source world as well. There have been many products that have become defunct because the company shut down or it was acquired. Another risk is that you cannot foresee when a particular feature will be available, unless you get your hands dirty or pay someone to develope a feature. However, these are risks and there are ways to deal with them. Some people also feel that not understanding the license obligations are a risk. Again, one way of dealing with this is to hire a lawyer to help you, and these days there are many lawyers who do work with you on understanding software licensing.
  • Every successful Open standard has been implemented by Open Source software. David Wheeler in his essay about Open Standards and Open Source argues that Open Standards and Open Source Software have a symbiotic relationship and aid each other. Open standards make it easy to adopt an Open Source solution as well as make it easy for the developers to create their projects. Open standards is not partial to Open source. A closed source software can very well do the same thing with Open standards. On the reverse, Open Source software definitely help in extending Open standards and keep those standards alive. It will also rapidly increase the adoption of the Open standards because you can download it and try it without paying an arm and a leg, and not an evaluation copy either.
  • Very often my customers ask me about the licenses and the legal aspects of Open Source software. The fact that there are so many licenses is in itself a very confusing aspect. One thing we have to remember is that every Open Source license must be approve by the Open Source Initiative. Open Source does not just mean access to the source code. OSI has a 10 point criteria to evaluate licenses before approval. Do not consider licensing as a showstopper. There are thousands of lawyers who can help you understand the implications of any of these licenses.
  • While cost is not the only advantage of moving to Open Source, it is probably the most commonly side effect (if I may use the term) of choosing Open Source software. Companies (large and small) and governments as well have saved considerable sums of money by moving from away from proprietary software. You don't pay the license fee, and I am pretty sure that those savings are substantial. The other costs associated with the software such as support, installation and implementation are very real and should be taken into account while you make the decision to go Open Source. Cost should not be a decision factor to consider open source. Consider the other compelling reasons like stability and security. It must be a business decision to use Open Source. You can modify and enhance the software if you wish. Another business reason, you've probably heard this many times, your dependence on highly skilled speciality resources will be much lower. Internal support thus becomes easier to manage.
  • User Experience (and Interface) is a card that is often played by the close source proponents as a compelling reason against Open Source. It is assumed that Open Source software has a far inferior User Interface owing to its technical nature. Somehow, people have the impression that one has to be a techie to use Open Source. Do any of you use Linux on your desktop? These days the UI of most Linux distributions far surpass Windows. Mac still rules, though. :-) The fact is that the UX aspect can be argues by both Open Source and Close Source proponents.
  • Sabre Holdings (Sabre travel network and reservation system) moved to Open Source in 2005-06. Expected savings millions of dollars. Zero marginal cost of scale, no additional licenses as installation grows thereby reducing cost of transaction as more systems are added. Sabre says, they expect 80% reduction in running cost. Italian bank Banca Popolare di Milano ventured into Open Source and liked it. From OS/2 to Linux resulted in quicker customer service. 90 million lines of Cobol were encapsulated and made available in a web based solution. At that time, it was one of Europe's largest Linux projects. (this was in 2005) Our very own HDFC bank uses Linux extensively. Baylis Distribution, a logistics company employing over 35,000 people in more than 40 countries had been using Linux on the desktop since 2005, first evaluated in 2001. They cut down the $1820 per seat cost of desktops by about 50% and improved usability as well. By replacing just 50 percent of proprietary software with open source in desktops and servers in 2010, India can save close to Rs 10,000 crore, says a recent research report by Prof Rahul De' of IIM Bangalore. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), which has saved close to Rs 42 crores by migrating from using proprietary software on its servers and desktop to open source. Today, LIC has migrated all its servers to Linux, and uses Linux on close to 60 percent of its desktop base of over 30,000. New India Assurance (NIA), is another stellar example of a firm that, has migrated about 1500 servers to Linux. The firm also uses Linux in 4,000 desktops, out of a total base of over 7,000 desktops. The estimated cost savings are close to Rs 80 crore. Considering the scale at which large enterprises such as LIC and NIA operate, the move to an open source model can truly generate massive savings. This is also true for state governments. For example, the IT@School project of Kerala replaced Windows software with open source on 50,000 desktops in schools across the state. As a result, tangible benefits amount to Rs 49 crore. Rahul De', Hewlett-Packard Chair Professor at the Indian Institue of Management, Bangalore has published a report. He will be speaking right after me and will shed more light on this matter. "It's not a technology issue, it is a business issue to do with externalisation." - Andy Mulholland - CTO CGEY
  • Open Source - Past, Present and Future

    1. 1. Open Source Past, present and future of IT Venkat Mangudi Available online at
    2. 2. Available online at
    3. 3. By 2012, open-source software's impact on application software will grow to $19 billion, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 44%. Gartner [Nov 26 2008] ( ) Available online at
    4. 4. Available online at
    5. 5. Available online at Past = Infrastructure Present = Infrastructure + Desktops of outliers Future = Ubiquity on the Cloud
    6. 6. Linux Vs Windows Available online at
    7. 7. Reliability & Support doesn't exist A Patchy Server Available online at
    8. 8. Open Source is risky Available online at
    9. 9. Open Standards Available online at
    10. 10. Licenses – a case of one too many Available online at
    11. 11. It's not about the $ £¥ Є Open source is like a stone thrown into a pond. The ripples spread outwards, even if you can no longer see the stone that caused them. - Tim O'Reilly Available online at
    12. 12. What about user experience, then? Available online at
    13. 13. Some Real Examples "It's not a technology issue, it is a business issue to do with externalisation." - Andy Mulholland - CTO CGEY Available online at
    14. 14. Thank you for your time [email_address] Available online at
    15. 15. Further Reading: Available online at