Life in Cloud Cuckoo Land

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If you want to see why closed software is doomed, consider this:

Nine out of ten software-as-a-service providers will rely on open source software by 2010 to save money, but the cost savings likely won't be passed onto customers, Gartner says in a new research note.

SaaS providers are typically using open source operating systems, application servers and databases, Gartner analyst Robert Desisto writes. For example, Salesforce.com uses an open source database for a service in which customers access Salesforce data while disconnected from the Internet.

Based on interviews with SaaS providers, Gartner determined that 90% will have at least some open source components in their technology infrastructure stacks by 2010. In similar research issued last autumn, Gartner says at least 80% of commercial software will contain significant amounts of open source code by 2011.

Now, it may well be that SaaS and its sibling, cloud computing, are hype du jour, but there's no denying the underlying logic: when it comes to infrastructure, it's hard to compete with free if it does the job you want. That doesn't mean that there won't be specialist niches where proprietary solutions may linger on, but as IT infrastructure scales, so the case for open source becomes even more compelling.

Which, when you think about it, is rather ironic, since a favourite jibe used to be that things like GNU/Linux don't scale.

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