In the 15 years since then, open source has become a widely used term and a strong, compelling brand, the default choice of an increasing number of governments and enterprises. Open source leaves its users in control of their IT budgets, free to choose the software that solves their problems without asking permission from a vendor first. Open source plays a vital role in the development of all kinds of infrastructure, with developers free to repurpose and redistribute components and even whole subsystems without restrictions.
As a result, there’s a large and increasing market value in the term “open source” — so it’s no surprise many companies are trying to cash in. Along with vendors who actually deliver on those open source benefits, a subset use the brand to sell their products without actually making open source freedoms available to their customers. These companies usually benefit from open source themselves, but the product or service they deliver to their customers doesn’t include the unrestricted freedom to use, study, improve, and share the software. Not every company using these approaches is behaving badly — but you need to make sure you protect your flexibility and IT control.