In a Computerworld piece on Wednesday, Open Solutions Alliance president Dominic Sartorio points to the $1 billion acquisition of MySQL and the emergence of third-party open source application exchanges like Red Hat Exchange or SourceForge Marketplace as evidence that open source applications are becoming "ubiquitous" in the business world. In order to take full advantage of the growing ubiquity and the "boom in application development" that is bound to follow, he says, open source companies must learn to work together to ensure interoperability between their applications. Otherwise, competing effectively against the likes of Microsoft and Oracle will be impossible.
Microsoft has thousands of developers working in lockstep on getting all of its applications to work together. There's never a worry that Microsoft Office will function effortlessly with Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics and so forth. Can the same be said across open-source applications? I would say the answer to that question is: not yet.
What's more, if open source shops don't get on this problem quickly, the great variety of features that result from collaborative development will be seen as weakness -- an Achilles' heel of sorts. Hope is not lost, however, because such open source interoperability is the sole reason the Open Solutions Alliance exists.
The group consists of several open source point solution providers that have moved past traditional partnership and are multilaterally collaborating to make their products more interoperable "and to reduce obstacles to adoption," he says. Sartorio then calls for other companies to "jump on the interoperability bandwagon." Though the OSA's Common Customer View prototype is a good start, it's just that -- a start. There's still a long way to go.