Demands on Open Source Software Grow

The times when only small companies and start-ups got involved with Linux and Co. have past. Today software giants such as IBM, Sun, Oracle, and SAP are in control of what happens in the Open Source arena, defying the Microsoft empire.

Application of Open Source increases

A development that appeals particular to users. This comes as no surprise since switching from proprietary operating systems to Open Source-based alternatives can save a lot of money.

In a recent survey on the future of Open Source, half of those interviewed predicted that over the coming years between 25 to 50 percent of the software sold will be from the Open Source sector. Furthermore, the annual poll by North Bridge Venture Partners showed that a third of those interviewed see Oracle, Sun, and SAP as the winners in this area. Only 20 percent envision Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo in the lead. However, according to the experts, code releases alone are not enough. In fact the market is demanding an extensive range of services offerings and improved virtual infrastructure. North Bridge Venture Partners had polled attendees of the Open Source business conference in San Francisco in March 2008 as well as customers of companies such as Sun Microsystems and Ingres.

SAP cooperations in the Open Source sector

SAP is currently collaborating with Intel to offer a readily configured version of SAP Business All-in-One, a fine-tuned bundle of software and hardware including a database as well as the SUSE Linux enterprise operating system. (2)

Another step toward customer friendliness and support will be made by the planned intensified cooperation of SAP with Novell, a leading supplier of company-wide operating systems based on Linux and Open Source along with Enterprise Management Services. Among other things, this cooperation is aimed at offering a joint support for SAP applications running on the Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise-Server. Here, the so-called “SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support” serves as a central hub for all service questions – from operating system to application. The advantages: faster service processes, less complexity, and ultimately lower operating costs.

SAP uses the SUSE Linux Enterprise-Server itself as a Linux development platform thus ensuring full operability of the SAP applications under Linux from the start.

The cooperation of SAP and Novell is to go far beyond Linux. The focus: a perfect consolidation of the two companies’ decisive technologies; providing customers with a high-value solution to help them fulfill regulatory requirements and optimize their applications for a virtualized IT environment.

Pros and cons of Open Source

For the most part, the low or non-existent license fees are considered the big advantage of Open Source software. Its application is therefore often more economical than that of commercial standard software. However, there are further arguments in favor of Open Source alternatives:

  • Customization: The Open Source code can be individually adapted or copied at any time.
  • Better product quality: The constant and prompt advancement of the code enables rapid bugfixing; no more waiting for costly updates.
  • Improved product safety: Since every developer can review the code, security holes and problems are caught sooner.

However, generally no claims pertaining to guarantee or liability can be asserted when using Open Source. There are no warranties on operational reliability and no support whatsoever. Thus, in case of need, third-party service are required. Also, freelance developers are not subject to any compulsory administration or maintenance, eliminating any kind of guarantee that the development of the product will be continued.

In some cases free software cannot be used because various manufacturers do not support the interoperability with Open Source. The user is left with standard software as the only choice – at least until open source providers offer equivalent bundles. (5)

What does the future hold for the application of Open Source? Complete solutions that ensure independence from commercial components and that in the best cases include support and maintenance.