Integrating Open Source up the Stack Can Be Tricky


By now, most people are pretty familiar with the pros and cons of using open source solutions in the enterprise. I know I am-or at least, I thought I was until I saw this recent TechNewsWorld article.


The article points out that the usual open source problems-licensing, rogue code, limited support, a changing code base and a lack of qualities of service (QoS)-all become more complicated as you move up the enterprise stack. And they really become problematic as you integrate open source middleware components with other parts of your infrastructure, the article argues.


In other words, this isn't an integration problem, so much as a problem caused by the act of integrating open source solutions into your infrastructure.


The piece is written by Deborah Moynihan, director of open source programs at Progress Software. In some ways, Progress is uniquely positioned to talk about this topic, since it offers a mix of commercial and open source products-including its June acquisition, the Iona, and its FUSE product line, which includes middleware.


Of course, Progress isn't the first one to notice this problem. In 2007, the general manager of the Americas and vice president of business development at Alfresco, Matt Asay, wrote the next five years would be "all about integrating open-source applications and infrastructure with incumbent, proprietary systems." Maybe he was just a year early with his prediction.


Fortunately, Moynihan doesn't just list problems. She also offers advice on how you can solve these solutions. For instance, she notes the Apache license is a popular solution for infrastructure software because it's "permissive in nature and is chosen frequently by enterprise integration developers as it allows developers to freely modify and redistribute the code."


It's difficult for me to tell how many of the recommendations are self-serving for Progress, which, as I said, does offer open-source middleware. But the tips here seem pretty basic and general. It's definitely worth a quick read if you're using or considering open source middleware solutions.


And if you're not considering open source, maybe you should look at dipping in your toes: All the cool kids are doing it.