Open-source software creates a host of new possibilities for vendors and users alike. When you think open-source software, you probably think of community-driven projects like Linux, MySQL, Apache, Eclipse and hundreds of others that have forever changed our minds about software and licensing.
The companies that sell the following 10 closed-source, proprietary software would do well to take a lesson from the open-source software community -- the lesson of software karma.
With Microsoft's newest server operating system release, it's time to see how the closed-source giant would fare releasing its 2008 model under an open-source license. With built-in virtualization and a minimal "core" installation available, it seems Microsoft is ready to take the open-source plunge. Microsoft would benefit from a worldwide community of developers and have the ability to shrink its own development staff by at least 30 percent, were it to move to an open-source model.
Like Microsoft, Oracle is an enormous pillar of proprietary, closed-source code. Sure, Oracle is dabbling in open source with its acquisition of Sun Microsystems and some of its own projects, but Oracle is a closed-source company. A shift to an open-source model would allow widespread development around Oracle's database and expansion into small and midsize businesses.
VMware is shy when it comes to open-source software. All of its major technologies are closed source. When will companies tire of spending huge amounts of money on its closed-source technologies when equivalent open-source ones are available? Technology research programs would benefit from open-source VMware products by taking them to the next level and returning that technology to VMware for all to share.
4. Lotus Domino
IBM has one of the largest (if not the) repertoires of open-source software projects in the world, but it has yet to offer up its long-running favorite, Lotus Domino, as open source. Releasing Domino to the open-source community would enable more ISPs and ASPs to host Notes and Domino services for a massive Internet audience. If IBM truly has its head in the "cloud," then it should prove it by making its Lotus product line part of the vast IBM open-source empire.
Yes, it's another Microsoft moment on the list, but Internet Information Server (IIS) is a formidable force in delivering Web content and second only to open-source rival, Apache, in number of hosted websites. Considering Microsoft doesn't need IIS for a revenue stream, why not release its code to the world? A new breed of adopters would pick up Microsoft tools, if they could develop integrated applications for IIS.
Enterprise software giant, SAP, probably doesn't see the immediate benefit of moving some of its products to open source, but like, IBM's Lotus Suite, SAP's Business Suite would fit nicely into an open-source world. SAP supports open standards and contributes to the Apache and Eclipse projects, but its key software products remain closed. Hosted solutions for small and midsize businesses would flourish under an open-source licensing scheme.
EMC, the big name in data deduplication with its Avamar product, should cough up an open-source edition for its non-enterprise public and for the open-source virtualization community. Versions of Avamar cover large data centers and those running VMware, but there's a a definite lack of offerings for the non-proprietary crowd.
CrownPeak came out a couple of years ago against its open-source competitors with a white paper titled, "Open Source Isn't Free (It's not even cheap)." The company would do well to re-evaluate its stance on this issue and release a community version of the software as an "Our software is great and you should use it" marketing plan. An open-source community version would enable potential customers to use the software, test it, perhaps customize it and purchase it.
Yes, the maker of your beloved desktop QuickBooks also develops and supports an enterprise version of that same software, known (not surprisingly) as QuickBooks Enterprise Edition. Intuit has the best line of accounting software products in the world, and many users have waited a decade or more for an open-source version of at least one of its products. The world remains disappointed. It's worth noting that you can run the server-side software on Linux, but the client side is still Windows only.
Unless your company is very small, you need an HRMS system. Sage's Abra product is at the top of the enterprise human resources management system list. An open-source version would provide an introduction to Sage and software to new potential customers. It would also allow for customization and internationalization tweaks that would benefit everyone.
Ken Hess is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of open-source topics including Linux, databases, and virtualization. He is also the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009. You may reach him through his web site at http://www.kenhess.com.