Open Source – Success Stories, Business Models and Why you should Care

There was time when a long flowing beard, disheveled hair, three continuous nights of hacking code in Assembly and the ability to quote from at least 3 RFCs was a basic requirement to run Open Source software like, say, Linux. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. It was enough to quote from any one RFC !!

Open Source for you and Me

But that was before the Era of Red Head Gears, Green Chameleons, Little Red devils and other sundry animal life like Hedgehogs, Ibexes and Jackalopes became popular.
Gone are the days when Open Source Software (OSS), was the indulgences of only the über-geeks.
Today we are in a time when ALL of us HAVE TO use open source software.

If you think you have never used an open source software, I ask you this : Do you have a Google/Yahoo account ?
Have you read articles on Pluggd.in ? Do you “loiter” on sites like Orkut, Facebook, Twitter.
If you have, you are already using Open Source software. OSS is one of the reasons of the massive successes of companies like Google and Yahoo, not just as part of their technology, but also as part of building their company infrastructure.

Why should Everyone know about Open Source ?

One the primary reasons is to empower oneself with choices. You may always decide to use Proprietary closed source software, but the knowledge of the existence of such a zeitgeist is the important thing.

Linux Logo
Linux Logo

Many people are under the impression that open source software is unstable, unpopular, unsupported and more of a hobbyist indulgence for the geeks.
If it was unstable, would some of the biggest Email and Web Servers in the world run Open Source software ?
If it was so  unpopular would Microsoft, one of the Biggest Proprietary Closed Source companies in the world, have a separate Open Source division ?
If it were so unsupported, would Apple’s  MAC OS X derive it’s core software component (the Kernel) from open source variants ?
If it was just a hobbyist indulgence and not of any commercial value, would Oracle buy an open source competitor (they acquired Sun, who acquired MySQL) ?

Open Source success stories and Business Models

Today Open source software has matured to the point where companies are building their core products around these softwares. Without scripting languages like jQuery , languages like Java , PHP , Ruby on Rails and open standards like AJAX, where would Digg, Gmail and Twitter be ?

Opensource logo
Opensource logo

Software companies like MySQL AB, Alfresco, SugarCRM, etc. are showing us how to build lucrative world class businesses using the Open Source business models.
Sale of companies like MySQL AB, FSMLabs, etc. are testimony to the fact that there is money to be made with this approach.
Companies like Google have showed the world how companies can leverage Open Source software to build unparalleled infrastructure in a short period and comparatively lower Cost of Implementation.

Open Source Today

But let bygones be bygones. Let’s take a look at what is happening in the world of open source TODAY ?

  • Operating Systems like Linux is slowly but steadily growing in deployment numbers, increasingly so in devices like Netbooks and Embedded Systems.
  • Browsers Firefox is becoming the top browser of choice in Linux, Windows as well as MAC platforms compelling companies like Google to come up with their own browsers.
  • Open source frameworks like the Webkit is becoming the framework of choice for most upcoming new web browsers.
  • The Unix operating system turned 40 this week.
  • The Android Operating system is being deployed on increasing number of smart mobile phones and Mobile Internet Devices.

Hopefully, I aroused atleast a flicker of hope in the inquisitive minds towards OSS. Going forward I would like to cover more base.
Surprise you more with concepts , products, services and business models from the  Open Source world. We will interview who have Walked the Walk and pioneered into unchartered waters. I would like all the Entrepreneurs out there to learn how they can save on huge licenscing costs without compromising on quality.
But most importantly, my main aim to write articles about this crazy yet brilliant world of Open Source software is to empower the Readers with a Right to Choose !!!

Written by Ashish Sinha

Profile photo of Ashish Sinha

Ashish Sinha is founder and CEO of NextBigWhat, the tech and startup community platform . He can be reached at: ashish (at) nextbigwhat.com.