What Will Economy Do to Open Source?


In a tough economy, it's no surprise to see more stories about CIOs who want to do more with less and those who are looking to open source to do that. After all, it is "priced right" as Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin told eWEEK recently.


Interestingly, though, CNET News blogger Matt Asay wondered last week whether the economic downturn will mean the end of independent open source companies like Red Hat. He noted, "[I]f Red Hat's stock continues to tumble it becomes ripe for an Oracle acquisition." The company has begun a stock buy back to maintain its stock prices. He concluded:

Losing Red Hat as an independent open-source vendor would effectively call an end to open source as a standalone software strategy. Some may cheer at this prospect, but I think the software world would be poorer for having open source serve as a minor component in everyone's arsenal, rather than having Red Hat showcase that it's a viable business strategy on its own.

ZDNet blogger Dana Blankenhorn has a different take. He doesn't think that the economy will spell the end of standalone open source. Instead, he says:

It is true that recessions bring consolidation, and fewer choices...But turn, turn, turn...There will be a spring. And when that spring begins there will be literally thousands of entrepreneurs, and tens of thousands of coders, ready to deliver new open source solutions of all kinds to a waiting market.

In other words, even if the independents we know now don't quite make it through the recession, new ones will emerge as the market begins to come alive again.