Oracle's Open-Source Shopping Spree
February 10, 2006 Leave a comment
I don't have too much time to put this post together (my plane to SCALE 4X leaves in about 2 hours) but I wanted to make a quick comment on this article about “Oracle's Open-Source Shopping Spree”. This worries me a bit. One great thing about Open Source projects, and one reason I think they are so successful, is that they are free to make technically correct decisions without having to worry about marketing department input, meetings, PHB's or any of the other things you're likely find in a large organization. They are simply free to innovate. Basically, they often avoid this problem. Another benefit is that since most Open Source projects are independent of each other, we get a large amount of choice…and so do they. The Open Source arena may look much different in a few short years if the current trend continues, and I'm not sure it's for the better. If a handful of very large corporations own the majority of successful Open Source projects, I think we lose a lot of the benefits. Now, there are things to gain for the projects – money, stability, a steady pay check, additional resources, etc. If the projects benefit, of course we benefit too. The “price” you pay for that however, is extremely high. Basically, you lose most (if not all) control over direction. I know a flurry of “but the code is Open Sourced, so it doesn't matter” comments may follow, but the reality is that it does matter. If all the developers go with the sale, the amount of work needed for another group of developers to get up to speed is significant. That is if another group of developers as talented is even interested. That is *far* from a given.
The most surprising name in the linked story in my opinion is JBoss. With Oracle having a directly competing project, where would that put the future of JBoss? When Larry says things like: “We are moving aggressively into open source. We are embracing it. We are not going to fight this trend. We think if we're clever, we can make it work to our advantage.” it doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence in me. Clever?? What I'm wondering, is will the Open Source projects of tomorrow simply become a proving ground for a company/technology so it can be swallowed up by one of the huge players. Will successful Open Source companies like MySQL become a thing of the past? It's a great win for the corporations, that's for sure. Why waste money on R&D when OSS will do all the work and you can pick only the choicest winners. You get only cream and expend no real time doing so, just money. Money that you already have and are guaranteed to get more of by filling your stable with only proven winners. I hope that isn't what the future holds, but the current indicators all make me think it may become inevitable. What the means in the long run, I'm not entirely sure. I do have a long plane ride to think about it though. See you in LA.
Open Source, Oracle, JBoss, Zend, PHP, Sleepycat