Gartner Open Source Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Open Source Summit this week in Orlando. Overall, I am glad I went and I think Gartner deserves congratulations for putting on a fine event. Zach Urlocker from MySQL has also blogged about the conference. Gartner has been criticized for being slow, even negative, on open source. The good news is that this seems to be changing.

Gartner speaks the language of large mainstream IT departments. There audience is not the bleeding edge or even leading adopters. It is the larege corporate mainstream IT shops. For instance, I spoke with two people that were just ‘thinking’ of adopting Linux and Apache as their web server. I thought the entire world uses Linux and Apache as their web server? These were individuals from well-known multi-billion companies that are very conservative. Gartner’s strength is educating these people.

A central theme of the conference was open source is quickly becoming mainstream and you need to get ready. The Gartner analyst, especially Mark Driver, did an excellent job explaining the dynamics of the open source community and how it will impact the software market and the enterprise. He stressed that the key issues for adoption of open source in enterprise are support and licensing. His view is that we have moved beyond the discussion of technology maturity.

Eclipse was well represented at the conference. Mark Driver positioned the Development Tools segment as the most mature category of open source software; operating systems and security were the next in maturity level. The most immature were ESB, Enterprise Apps, and process management. An informal show of hands during a session showed 80-90% of attendees developing in Java were using Eclipse.

Dan Woods did an excellent presentation to wrap up the conference. His main points were 1) developing skills within the enterprise are critical if you want to benefit from open source. 2) open source companies (JBoss, MySQL) are becoming more like enterprise software companies. This not necessarily being a bad thing.

A knock on the conference might be that Gartner was too bullish on open source. In some presentations you got the impression that all software was going to be open source and the existing vendors were in big trouble. I just don’t buy this. There is lots of room for commercial software. In fairness, I think Gartner was trying to reinforce with their audience that open source is changing things and you need to change with it.

There was one particularly weak presentation that tried to describe how open source communities work. I didn’t get the feeling that the analyst was providing a balanced view of the different open source communities. SourceForge seemed to be his point of reference.

Regardless, I think congratulations are in order for Mark Driver and Gartner for putting on the conference. If they continue with the level of content and analysis that was presented at this conference, it will only benefit the open source communities.

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