Research company Gartner has debunked the myths surrounding open
source development and support that it believes are leaving many
enterprises apprehensive about embracing the technology.
In a strongly worded research note, Gartner has refuted what it
identifies as five main myths. These include that no one controls
open source software and that few people have access rights to
Nikos Drakos, an analyst at Gartner, said: "Contrary to common
perceptions, open source development is often tightly controlled.
In addition, the availability of the source code and the
requirement to share modifications promote longer-term viability,
reduce the entry barriers for those offering services and support,
and discourage 'Balkanisation' [when vendors deliberately build in
proprietary extras to make their offerings attractive enough to
First on Gartner's hitlist is the myth that no one controls open
source development. The researcher said this view ignores the fact
that open source products are tightly controlled either by a single
individual or a small developer group, as is the case with
The idea that anyone can change open source software so that it
will eventually becomes unstable, also get short shrift. Gartner
argues that few people have access rights to integrate code and
that enterprises are to select older versions have code that has
been proven to be stable.
Gartner said the history of Apache web server development, where
many in the original group left to form Netscape, gives lie to the
myth that open source development is dependent on key
"In fact, that chance of a popular open source software product
continuing to be supported after the departure of key individuals
is much better than the survival of a proprietary product after the
demise, acquisition or change in the product strategy of a
commercial vendor," argues the research note.
Unlike Unix, no one stands to gain from a split in the source
code of Linux so splintering and Balkanisation is unlikely to
happen, said Gartner.
Only the idea that open source support is not up to scratch is
given any credence.
Usenet resources and some telephone support exist but "this type
of support, however, is much less acceptable to corporate users who
are looking for accountability as well as maintenance and technical
Colin Tenwick, Red Hat's general manager of European operations,
said that research companies are reversing their position in light
of strong uptake of Linux in the market.
"Many analysts first took a position on why the open source
model wouldn't work, then they said it was only useful for quirky
things on the web. In a year's time they'll be explaining how Linux
is worth looking at for enterprise applications," said Tenwick.
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