economic weight of proprietary systems that discourage risk-taking by demanding huge investments for the barest of incremental agility.
Open source software at large is estimated to have saved businesses more than $60 billion since the concept of collaborative software development began to gather serious momentum in the 1990s. In an open source deployment, source code is provided to users with no license fee – a concept that’s shocking to traditional software companies that are accustomed to collecting big payments for systems only they understand. Users then have an open invitation to add, test, and perfect additional features that produce increasingly valuable iterations of the software. In some models, customers can choose whether to openly publish their enhancements – contributing to a steady improvement in performance that others can leverage – or pay a fee to keep them for themselves.
Over time, the process has worked to produce some of the most stable, scalable, innovation-embracing applications driving enterprise-level operations worldwide. Linux is one well-known creation of the open source movement, and there are thousands of others across all sectors of the economy, including the popular suite of customer-relationship management applications from Salesforce.com, whose slogan – “Success, not software” – dramatizes the new approach to application development.
Open source development environments empower a new breed of providers with a fundamentally different cost model than the model adopted by legacy software developers. That translates to enormous reductions in the cost of back-office environments. But open source approaches also provide a faster roadmap to innovative new business models that involve a complex series of relationships between customers, third-party providers, advertisers, and e-commerce participants.
That’s where the disconnection with current platforms occurs. Legacy systems presume a simple, one-to-one relationship of provider to customer: You count the minutes used or track the TV channels offered, and send out a corresponding bill.