Open Source Vendors' Predictions for 2008

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At this time of the year, it's traditional for pundits to offer their predictions for the year ahead, and the world of free software is no exception. But in many ways, it would be far more fruitful to hear what the people on the ground – the open source vendors – think is going to happen. The question is, who could round up such comments in sufficient number to make them more than just thoughts of some random CEO?

Well, the Open Solutions Alliance, whose boss I interviewed last year, is a good candidate for bringing things together. After all, it's an organisation that

consists of leading companies dedicated to making enterprise-class open software solutions work together

as its Web site puts it, and it has just published its 2008 Predictions Survey.

The main one, made by several CEOs is that the coming economic slowdown will be good for open source:

“Demand for Linux and open-source applications, infrastructure and services will increase substantially in 2008, driven partially by an economic slowdown in the United States,” predicted Doug Levin, CEO of Black Duck Software, an open-source code management company. “These open-source solutions will be active in more corporations and SMBs in 2008 than ever before.”

“During ‘08, the pressures CIOs will face to drive greater business innovation with a fixed (or low growth) IT budget will conspire to challenge every possible traditional software license,” said Brian Gentile, CEO of JasperSoft, an open-source business intelligence application. “Open-source software can be a significant catalyst in liberating more of this maintenance budget, freeing it for use in driving new business and improved profitability.”

This is not just wishful thinking, because the dotcom crash did indeed lead many companies to look at open source in the hope of making less money go further.

Other predictions include:

A confluence of open-source and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models

which is certainly interesting – although I'm not quite sure how that might happen in practice.

A shake-out among open-source business models

That also looks likely: most of the main sectors within open source are extremely crowded, and it seems very unlikely that all can survive.

Interoperability between open source and closed source solutions.

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

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