Future Directions

Future Directions

Where do you see open source in three years, five years?

QUANDT: Open source is going to continue to move further into the enterprise, and Linux will become the dominant Unix operating system within the next three years. I think that it's going to change the way that companies think about technology.

CORMIER: Open source is proving itself to be very viable, and I think you'll see more projects in open source. You'll see Linux move higher up into the enterprise, as well as move into specialized operating systems where you may have seen RISC-based systems in the past.

SUTTEN: At the higher ends, we're going to be sharing source code over the Internet, and I think that's going to be pervasive. Until the support and sustainability issues can be solved, I don't think Linux is going to be a major enterprise player at the lower levels.

MATUSOW: Open source is going to continue to be an important part of the software ecosystem. I think that for all independent software vendors, of which I would include Microsoft in terms of being a commercial software vendor, a very healthy process is under way in which we're looking at source code access and what it means for customers and partners, and I think that trend will continue. I don't believe that by definition that means open source software will become the dominant factor in the industry. I just think it'll be a player.

WEISS: Open source development models will be increasingly accepted by software vendors and consumers, but will not replace proprietary licenses as the primary commercial software licensing model through 2006. And probably 80 percent to 90 percent of IT organizations of 100 or more employees will have some open source in their organization.

EUNICE: I like to make the distinction between open source as a development methodology and as a business model, and I think we've often thought of it as both—dessert topping and floor wax. And I think that open source is proving itself successful as a development methodology. It has had a lot of trouble as a business model.

ROBBINS: I agree. The interest lies in the fact that the software is a mirror of something larger. We have a real struggle with the notion of intellectual property. And we haven't wrestled with the whole notion of what is proprietary versus what is owned by the community. And so open source software will drive us closer as businesspeople to confronting that larger issue, and there will be some institutions that can embrace it, and there will be some that absolutely cannot.

YATKO: I agree with Stacey's points. We're seeing open source and Linux being adopted by the larger corporations such as IBM and Sun. As the ISVs are now beginning to adopt it, it will certainly start penetrating the enterprise at a much bigger level. And we'll probably see it start accelerating, since people cannot, in these economic times, ignore the cost benefits.

To CIOs considering open source, what would you suggest they think about?

CAREY: It gives choice, and when you have choice, you have more efficient markets, and consumers get the best value for their dollar.

WEISS: Users have to be cautious that they don't get too lulled into the fact that a vendor will raise the banner of open source and then, in a backhanded fashion, continue to promote its own proprietary software and try to lock the user in.

MATUSOW: CIOs need to keep in mind that there are both benefits and risks, and that clearly as a development model there are benefits. But in terms of the business model, there are risks. They need to be aware of the testing. If I'm in a regulated industry, what do I need to be aware of in terms of what my procurement processes are requiring, and whether or not my open source vendor is going to be able to tell me whether certain security standards have been met?

EUNICE: Our industry has been converging for 20 or 30 years, and trying to standardize and come to common platforms. So I see Linux as yet another one of the major pieces, certainly not the only piece. But it's a way of consolidating what we do across a lot of different hardware and processors. And it's an ugly process. I mean, Unix was, Windows was—the whole process is ugly, but the place we want to get to is that kind of approved common platform.

ROBBINS: Another thing the CIO has to always consider is how this decision affects the company's core mission, and to make those cost/risk decisions based upon that. If you're not into sharing, and you don't believe in leveraging knowledge, and you don't believe in leveraging the benefit of others, don't do open source. There's no reason to. If, however, your business is cross-functional and non-hierarchical, you'd better think about this.

Please send comments on this story to roundtable@cioinsight.com.

This article was originally published on 06-14-2002
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