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Open Source: A Golden Age of Development

By Dick Weisinger

Open source used to be an aberration — now it is an imperative.  If you’re not using or developing open source projects, you’re putting your business at risk.  That’s the message from Black Duck Software and Forrester, as recently presented in a webinar describing Open Source software and innovation.

Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester and presenter at the webinar, said of the need for businesses to adopt open source that “From an enterprise [point of view], you need to lower your cost of innovation and deploy prototypes to compete against digital upstarts or you risk becoming the next Borders or Blockbuster. It’s happening in telco, retail and finance. You’re at risk no matter what industry you’re in.  You can’t lower your cost of innovation unless you take advantage of some of these technologies… Open source more than anything else has dramatically reduced the cost of innovation …. it lets bright people stitch [software]together and create a resulting service that scales readily without additional licensing costs.”

The ready availability and high quality of open source software components means that the costs of software development have plummeted.  Forrester estimates that because of pre-built open source software that the cost of development for a project is as much as 90 percent less than compared to pre-open source development.

Developers are well aware of the benefits.  Currently, five out of every six developers say they have used or are currently developing software projects that make use of open source components, and only 16 percent of developers say that they’ve never tried using open source.

Hammond said that “We are seeing a shift in the center of gravity among development away from ISVs and corporations and to communities that form around open source projects … [this is the] github generation, the eclipse generation. Vendors are still important but they’re moons encircling the planet, which is the community. They are not the center of gravity themselves.”

Hammond said that “It’s a golden age from the software development perspective.. It’s a fun time but a challenging time.”

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