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A Look Back at Open Source in 2010

December 29, 2010 No Comments


As year moves toward a conclusion, it is time for a moment of reflection. Don’t worry this won’t involve any ghosts waking you from your eggnog fueled holiday slumber. We simply look back at the top five events of 2010 that were most meaningful in open source and will continue to influence the market in 2011 and beyond.

1. The First Billion-Dollar Open Source Company

Adopting an open source operating system, especially for enterprise class use, is not without its problems. Many open source projects lack documentation, support, graphical administration tools and packaged installations common with commercial products. Red Hat (news, site) helps organizations close the gaps. Red Hat earned its fortune providing subscription services for support and distribution of Linux.

At the current rate, Red Hat will reach US$ 1 billion in annual revenue in 2011. Only a few software companies, and certainly no open source entities, have reached this milestone. The growth of Red Hat shows it’s not just techies and risk-taking start-ups leveraging open source; adoption has clearly reached the mainstream.

Who says open source can’t make money?

2. Oracle Takes Command

Oracle (news, site) completed its acquisition of Sun (news, site) in January of this year. With the acquisition, Oracle acquired Sun’s catalog of open source projects, most notably Java. Oracle may think its business runs on open source, but the open source community seems to be running away from the software behemoth.

In August, Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement. Oracle claimed that Google’s Android is illegally using ideas and code from Java. After ten years of being a very visible member of the Java Community Process, Apache resigned from JCP’s Executive Committee in December. The company’s frustration finally peaked at Oracle’s refusal to certify Apache’s open source Java runtime Harmony. The debacle goes back to 2006 when Sun was involved.

Java isn’t the only open source technology feeling Oracle’s embrace. There are rumors that Sun wants to revert Solaris, or at least parts of it, to being proprietary. The OpenOffice community formed the Document Foundation, forked from the main OpenOffice project and released LibreOffice fearing the impact of assimilation into Oracle.

The Hudson project, an open source continuous integration server, has been forbidden to use the Hudson name if developers elect to host the project on GitHub instead of Officially however, Oracle does not have a trademark on the product.

3. The Rise of NoSQL

With popularity bolstered by web companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, many companies gave NoSQL more than a cursory look in 2010.  Cassandra displaced MySQL at Twitter and became the primary information sorting system at  Digg. NoSQL providers users the promise of cheap, fast and highly available data storage – a pretty compelling value proposition given the rate of data growth some organizations are experiencing.

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