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Consumerisation-driven Open Source

Adopting a new philosophy to approach new problems

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One of the key trends in today’s IT world is consumerisation. Consumer IT device usage and consumer behaviour on the web is creating new kinds of demands and new kind of services to fill those demands.

We’ve seen massive changes in the past five years. We live in the world of devices heralded by Apple. We live in a world where Facebook may soon become your personal ERP system. We live in a world in which the only new breed of supercomputer is operated by a company that started off by selling targeted ads to consumers.

Consumerisation is already storming the corporate and public sector IT world. Company-owned laptops anybody? A lot of "yes" is still around, but the pressure is increasing for employees to be able to use their own preferred choice of hardware and software.

What about Facebook-based login to your company systems? That might be pushing it a bit, but you should think about it for at least all of your consumer-facing services.

The pattern in consumerisation is that it is not big time corporate IT that conjures the new service. And, as a consequence, it is not the big time software vendors that are typically providing the solutions.

Open source has historically focused on commoditising software: taking that well understood proprietary thing and creating an open version of it. This applies to operating systems, databases, application servers, portals, integration solutions, reporting, business intelligence, etc.

Examples of more recent areas of commoditisation include the much touted area of analytics. In all these areas, open source has been the follower. The initial market has been created by closed source commercial software.

But consumerisation does not wait and the old open source model is changing. There is not typically time to negotiate contracts with big time IT. The required features, which change and evolve continuously, are often not addressed by traditional models. The cost of using traditional closed source commercial software is also inhibiting.

Google was a first mover and created a lot of its own technology. The next "Googles", e.g. Facebook, Twitter and so on were not first movers in the consumer technology space. They did however apply the lessons of Google to create their own solutions. They have open sourced many of the technologies and continue doing so.

It is logical that the first mover protects its IP and makes the most use of it. It is also logical that the followers form open, commodity driven, ecosystem to play catch-up. Thus, consumerisation has created demand that traditional closed source commercial software could not meet, leading to a change in the value chain in which the traditional step of closed source commercial software is being bypassed. Instead they are playing catch up - the roles are reversed.

As consumerisation is knocking on the doors of corporate IT, we see them turning their eye to this new breed of consumerisation-driven open source.

As a systems integration company we see that change as well. Retail and insurance are two industries where our clients are using this new breed of open source to their benefit. For example, our clients are increasingly adopting open source software frameworks, such as Hadoop and Pig to tackle old and new problems that were previously either hard or very expensive to solve.

And the traditional closed source software companies? They are playing catch-up to level the playing field, but smartly enough they are not trying to compete with the open ecosystems. Instead they are including them in their offerings. Hadoop connectors are popping up like mushrooms after rain in the fall.

Let’s see what Oracle Open World has to offer on the topic this week.


Posted by Tomas Nystrom, Global Open Source Lead, Accenture

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