The New Software Industry: Open Source panel

First up after lunch is a panel on the role of open source in service management, moderated by Martin Griss of CMU West, and including Kim Polese of SpikeSource, and Jim Berbsleb and Tony Wasserman of CMU West.

Polese is included in the panel because her company is focussed on creating new business models for packaging and supporting open source software, whereas the other two are profs involved in open source research and projects.

The focus of the session is on how open source is increasingly being used to quickly and inexpensively create applications, both by established companies and startups: think of the number of web-based applications based on Apache and MySQL, for example. In many of these cases, a dilemma is created by the lack of traditional support models for open source components — that’s certainly an issue with the acceptance of open source for internal use within many organizations — so new models are emerging for development, distribution and support of open source.

Open source is helping to facilitate unbundling and modularization of software components: it’s very common to see open source components from multiple projects integrated with both commercial software components and custom components to create a complete application.

A question from the audience asked if there is a sense of misguided optimism about the usefulness open source; Polese pointed out in response that open source projects that aren’t useful end up dying on the vine, so there’s some amount of self-selection that tends to promote successful open source components and suppress those that are less successful through market acceptance.

As I mentioned during the Brainstorm BPM conference a few weeks back, it’s very difficult to blog about a panel — much less structure than a regular presentation, so the post tends to be even more disjointed than usual. With luck, you’ll still get some of the flavour of the panel.

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