Open source award winners: Not just Linux and MySQL

Lesser-known InfoWorld Bossies winners like Pentaho, JasperSoft, SugarCRM, Drupal, VirtualBox, or NetBeans are worth considering as well

It's gotta be tough for InfoWorld's overworked editors to figure out how to recognize the best open source products out there. Open source has become so pervasive in IT that there aren't too many areas where there aren't at least a half-dozen interesting pieces of open source technology from software infrastructure, networking, development tools, desktop software, you name it. I'm not a part of the decision making process in these awards, but I have empathy for them and all the different products they need to consider.

For manageability, InfoWorld split the awards into several categories: the 2009 Bossie awards (best of open source software), top 10 open source hall of famers, and the greatest open source software of all time. That enables InfoWorld's editors to recognize the unique contribution of, say, Linux, but at the same time give visibility to other open source operating systems like BSD that may also be important for IT organizations to consider, even if they're not on the same level of adoption as Linux or MySQL.

[ See the slideshows of the 2009 InfoWorld Bossie Award winners: The best of open source developer tools | The best of open source enterprise software | The best of open source networking software | The best of open source platforms and middleware. ]

And that's really how you should look at these awards. Personally, I don't think it's as important to know who won what category as it is to look at these open source products in their respective field. The hall of famers and greatest open source software are probably things that most IT organizations are familiar with and likely are using in their organization today. (If you aren't, you should consider whether there are budget savings to be had by using these products.)

The 2009 Bossie award winners are not quite as pervasive technologically, but certainly worth keeping an eye on. In some cases, like BI tools, there are multiple award winners, such as Pentaho and JasperSoft. That just goes to show there's plenty of competition in open source; depending on your needs, one product might be a better fit than the other. Or you might need both for different applications.

The point is, if you're not looking at some of these not-quite-hall-of-famers like Pentaho, JasperSoft, SugarCRM, Drupal, VirtualBox, or NetBeans, you probably should. They won't all fit in your organization, but my guess is one or two could have a significant impact.

You can follow Zack Urlocker on twitter at www.twitter.com/zurlocker but why you'd want to is your business.

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