Once the domain of developers, open source will increasingly become part of integrated enterprise solutions.
In 2008, IT executives in large enterprises will weave open source solutions more closely into the fabric of their core IT infrastructure, from procurement processes through deployment of next-generation applications, says Anthony Gold, vice president and general manager, Open Source Business, Unisys.
As solutions include more and more open source content, from middleware to business applications, open source will become key in helping management respond to increasing pressure to align IT with business goals while spending less money and leveraging existing assets more effectively.
Looking ahead at 2008, Gold predicts that:
1. Evaluation of open source solutions will become a standard part of the enterprise IT qualification and procurement process.
2. Enterprises will extend - and even modify - their governance policies to include management of open source resources.
3. Business services currently offered by legacy applications will be retooled into flexible new 'composite applications' based on open architectures, such as SOA, and open standards.
4. Businesses will increase the speed with which they leverage open source in enterprise applications as well as in operational and business management functions.
"In 2008, open source will increasingly contribute to solving what I call the CIO Conundrum," says Gold. "In the face of shrinking budgets, IT executives are being challenged to deliver more business results while simultaneously modernising the IT infrastructure and leveraging applications they already have. Executives can achieve greater cost efficiency while increasing the value that IT delivers to the organisation by using open source software to integrate proprietary solutions and legacy systems as they modernise their IT infrastructure."
Evaluation of open source solutions
Gold asserts that in 2008, enterprise IT executives will increasingly realise that many of the open source solutions created by virtual communities have potential business value equal to and sometimes greater than those from traditional software providers. They will take steps to ensure that those solutions are evaluated through the same formal process applied to all others.
"IT executives will see more clearly that open source solutions now routinely provide security, high availability, robustness, scalability, and other enterprise-quality features. This realisation will cause them to place open source solutions in the front rank of those solutions routinely considered for mission-critical tasks," Gold says.
Extend governance policies
Enterprises will increasingly bring open source software under the formal governance policies they already have in place for evaluation, procurement, adoption, testing, and production of solutions. Organisations will also increasingly apply formal policies around measuring the impact of open source solutions and their capability to help the organisation meet and exceed service level agreements to support the business.
In fact, according to Gold, businesses are equally likely to adapt their existing governance policies to fit the open source deployment model. Open source projects often provide new software releases much more frequently than slower moving commercial software providers. Enterprise evaluation and production policies will need to adapt to this change.
Gold says, "Extending proven governance policies to new-generation resources will further convince management that open source solutions are as controllable as established proprietary solutions and as capable of providing measurable business value. And by modifying policies to integrate open source resources more quickly, they can reap the operational and economic benefits in more efficiently managed ways."
Business services retooled
Enterprises need a toolkit of components and an architecture that enables creation of an integrated environment in which business services - such as those supporting customer satisfaction - previously delivered through legacy applications are available to all applications, whether legacy, commercial or open source.
Most organisations are now adopting this approach guided by service oriented architecture (SOA). In doing so they leverage open standards, such as those evolving around Web services and orchestration, to enable delivery of those services.
Gold says that, because open source solutions have an exceptionally broad range - from components that solve a very specific integration or processing problem to environmental software such as operating systems and middleware - they are positioned to be a major part of this integrated toolkit approach in ways that commercial software cannot. Through emphasis on interoperability enabled by standards, open source is becoming a larger and larger part of the IT fabric enabling composite applications which align more closely with business requirements and which are able to react quickly to business change.
"In 2008, enterprise IT management will increasingly move to restructure existing assets to support a more agile application model that delivers business services created through use of components," says Gold. "Those components will be provided by new development, service-enabling legacy applications, or commercial off-the-shelf applications, which are increasingly being restructured to support this model. All these efforts are directly enabled through adoption of open standards, open architectures, and open source."
Gold says that in 2008, adoption of open source alternatives for a variety of enterprise applications and management requirements will continue to increase in areas that have long been the nearly exclusive province of proprietary solutions.
Increasingly popular tools for business and IT monitoring - such as JasperSoft and Pentaho for dashboard reporting in business intelligence (BI) applications and GroundWork, Hyperic and Zenoss for operations control - will penetrate even further into corporate IT infrastructures. So will business solutions such as Alfresco for enterprise content management (ECM), Concursive Concourse for customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, Compiere and Openbravo for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, and a host of new collaboration technologies based on web 2.0 capabilities.
Gold points out that market dynamics and government requirements are major factors in this evolution. Many rapidly developing areas, such as China and other parts of the Asia Pacific region, have first-generation IT infrastructures in which proprietary applications have not been been widely deployed. Consequently, they are very receptive to open source solutions as a first choice. In Europe, state and local governments and even the European Union are driving use of open solutions for ECM in order to facilitate the sharing of increasingly large amounts of information among governments with a common need for access.
"Open source will continue to grow as an enabling force for business because of its perfect storm of key attributes: a community-driven requirements model; uniquely targeted deployment model; adherence to, and capability to drive, new standards; and low cost of entry. In 2008, users' greater appreciation of those qualities will bring open source closer to becoming competitive table-stakes for enterprises."