Open Source and the Enterprise

Open source software are growing stronger and the community grows larger. Gartner has been predicting that by 2011, at least 80% of all commercial software solutions will include elements of open source. In U.S, the federal government is also starting to look into open source software. Recently, Drupal – an open source content management system – is used in US.gov.

Although open source software helps to reduce cost and there are many success story, it does not mean we can just pick and implement them. There are some consideration that we need to take note, especially when deploying it as part of the enterprise solution. Typically, I look into a few areas

  • The size of the community – this is a good indicator on the adoption rate of an open source software. Typically the size of the community helps the team to grows the software. The open source team will have more motivation to deliver good quality software.
  • The support – in some case, enterprise will look for assurance that there are organization that provide technical support. Having a proper support means there will be quick and easy access to help rather than waiting for the community to response. Having such support can also help to assure our internal security team in approving its usage.
  • The roadmap – clear product roadmap is very important as it is providing clear picture of the team’s vision.
  • Frequency of release – by looking at the release frequency, we are able to see how active the team in the development of the open source software. This will also give us assurance that the team will be able to provide fix and enhancement fast.
  • Current version – it is good to wait for the open source software to be more stable and mature before adopting or using it.
  • Documentation – how good the documentation is can help to reduce the time to learn the software. Sometime there are open source with limited documentation but have many books written about it, that can be a good substitute as well.
  • Licensing – do read the license agreement and check whether or not your organization is acceptable to the license.

If you have more to add on, just drop your comment.

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Open Standard and Guideline to Note

  • OWASP – The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a worldwide free and open community focused on improving the security of application software. Do read on the development guide, code review guide and testing guide. They are very useful and I think all web developer & solution architect must understand those guide.
  • Open Screen Project – The Open Screen Project is an industry-wide initiative, led by Adobe with the participation of other industry leaders, with one clear vision: Enable consumers to engage with rich Internet experiences seamlessly across any device, anywhere. This seems to be an attempt by Adobe to set Flash as the standard for Rich Internet Client. Will this initiative succeed? and What will be Microsoft and its Silverlight do about this?
  • Microformats – Designed for humans first and machines second, microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns (e.g. XHTML, blogging). I love the idea of defining data formats for web. This is one of the must follow standard and will be the foundation for Web 3.0 šŸ™‚
  • OpenID – OpenID allows you to use an existing identity to sign in to multiple websites, without needing to create new passwords.
  • Open Social – defines a common API for social applications across multiple websites. With standard JavaScript and HTML, developers can create apps that access a social network’s friends and update feeds. Google is currently leading this initiative. Is Facebook growth drive Google to start this initiative? I am not too sure. MySpace, Google Sites, iGoogle are some of the sites that follows Open Social standard.
  • WCAG – explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in a Web page or Web application, including text, images, forms, sounds, and such. This is an important standard for the web master or web designer to understand. It helps to improve website accessibility.
  • RDF – Resource Description Framework is standard from W3C. It is one of the key enabler for Web 3.0.

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