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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another sign that Open Source is becoming mainstream

You know that a word or phrase has become hugely popular when it is used as both a proper noun and a verb, such as Windex, Google, and Scotch Tape. Now we can add “Open Source” to such an esteemed category.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wanted: Open Source solution architects

There is a gaping hole in the open source commercialization eco-system. And, by “commercialization”, I don’t mean that in a negative “selling out” manner, but rather in leveraging the greatness of open source to solve real-world business problems. There are a large and growing number of technical experts driving the open source projects and the innovations therein. This started as a grass-roots movement, as many significant innovations and paradigm shifts do, and continues to cross from innovators and early adopters toward the mainstream. But, the open source “movement” still has its detractors.

Typical comments I hear all the time (from CxO’s):

“It’s geek stuff, not real code that is ready for the enterprise. I would never bet my business on it.”

“The code is developed by people all over the world who never see each other. And anyone with bad intentions has total visibility into the code. That doesn’t sound too safe to me.”

“Who owns any of this stuff, and where would I turn if I had any questions or problems?”

Of course, those comments come from people who are misinformed. However, since perception is “reality” in many spheres of life, the challenge is to overcome those false perceptions.

So, while the technical merits of many open source projects are driving acceptance amongst IT folks, what is also needed is a commensurate “communication” push at the executive level. In other words, drive the value articulation of open source both from the bottom-up and the top down. But, to do it “top down” requires a rare skill set. This is what I call the “open source solution architect”.

An open source solution architect not only understands the open source space inside and out, but also knows the particular business space. By business space, I mean a selected vertical industry such as telecommunications, hospitality, transportation, financial services, public sector, and so-on. So, this solution architect understands the business (the players, their challenges, their success criteria, etc.) and can speak at a CxO level. This person can go toe-to-toe with any CIO and articulate how open source can help them solve pressing business challenges and enable new business opportunities. Although growing in number, the people with these skills are still few and far between.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Enterprise Open Source Reader’s Choice Awards – Cast Your Vote

The 2007 Enterprise Open Source Magazine “Reader’s Choice” Awards is currently taking place, and you can vote here. The magazine is an excellent resource for all things open source, and these awards recognize solutions and products ranging from the best Linux book all the way up to the best open source product. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, the Unisys OASIS stack is one of the products up for nomination in that category.

I encourage all readers to take a moment and browse through the categories with which you are familiar and cast your vote. The more votes received, the more significant the results will be.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Open Source Predictions for 2007

I recently published a set of open source predictions for 2007 to detail those areas that we in Unisys believe will really take off next year. I’d like to offer a summary of those thoughts here to encourage your views and comments.

Businesses will take a much more holistic, architectural view of implementation and deployment of open source projects rather than managing them in a piecemeal “as needed” fashion. Now that many open source components are really proving themselves as ready-for-prime-time, or as I like to say, “bet-your-business-on-capable”, CIOs and CFOs are really starting to take notice. As such, business executives are now extremely interested in how these pieces can be architected into an organized strategy for enhancing their business, particularly around some sort of a services-oriented architecture (SOA). Perhaps most compelling is the ability to modernize a legacy environment in a well thought out, evolutionary approach.

Another area of rapid adoption will be around vertical solutions, particularly in the public sector, financial services, and communications space. Teams with expertise in both open source technologies and industry solutions will pull together stacks tuned to address business challenges and opportunities in their respective markets. Coupled with the industry verticals will also be more specialized horizontal plays to go after the BI, ECM, and systems (datacenter) management trends. And, I suspect we will see even more open source startup companies formed to go after those specific opportunities in both the pure verticals as well as the horizontal markets.

The opportunities for businesses are huge, and I believe that more SI players will get involved in helping pull together the entire ecosystems for the end-users. An obviously growing corporate trend is to focus more on specific value-add and to “outsource” their non-core activities to a partner who understands their space and can help them meet their business goals. That’s certainly the position Unisys is taking with our open source business model, which is focused on helping clients around the world realize the benefits of open source and open standards without sacrificing any of their mission-critical requirements. Those benefits are obviously a dramatic reduction in datacenter costs and a significant increase in the flexibility of their infrastructure.