Mark Spencer, founder and CTO of Digium, has successfully given open source VoIP platform Asterisk a voice in the enterprise, thanks in large part to an ongoing commitment to community development.
InfoWorld spoke with Spencer on challenges particular to open source businesses as part of its roundtable on the state of open source. Here's how Spencer sees open source's best bets for seizing business opportunities.
Founder and CTO
InfoWorld: What do you see as the more pressing challenges and opportunities for open source given the current tech climate?
Spencer: I see the challenge to be finding and building the right combination of technologies to address the demand for the integration of different software applications and systems such as accounting, reporting, ERP, CRM, etc. Open source is uniquely positioned to allow easy adaptation to address these needs.
IW: Where do you see open source heading in the next five years, especially with regard to development, community, and market opportunities?
Spencer: The value of open source technology is widely recognized today. Even Microsoft has taken notice and built and is promoting their open source interoperability lab. Open source is a technology and licensing model that is here to stay and grow. Open source projects tend to start by focusing on highly technical interest groups (such as compilers and system libraries, which are focused at software developers). As adaptation of the open source projects grow broader, more products appear addressing a less technical audience, such as Open Office and "The Gimp," Ubuntu, and others have done. In fact, I personally view Open Office as one of the most critical open source software packages because it is the key to transitioning users and enterprises away from Microsoft Office and thus enables users to switch to Linux. Today, we are at the knee of the curve on this movement.
IW: Does widespread adoption and commercialization of open source software create new challenges or pressures for open source projects?