What is notable is that many of the newest open source tools are already on the front lines in enterprise shops. The open source ethic began in the labs, where it continues to serve an important role, aligning groups in pre-competitive areas and allowing them to work together without worrying about ownership. A number of important areas of research are advancing through open source blocks of code, and our list of winners includes several projects for studying social networks (Gephi, Neo4j, Giraph, Hama) and constructing statistical models of data (Drill).
Throughout this long list, there continues to be a healthy competition between the different licenses. The most generous and least encumbering options such as the MIT and BSD licenses are generally applied to the tools built by researchers who often aren't ready to commercialize their work. The more polished, productlike tools backed by professional programmers are increasingly being released under tighter rules that force more disclosure. Use of the GPL 3.0 and the AGPL is growing more common as companies look to push more sharing on those who benefit from open source.
The companies behind open source projects are also becoming more adept at creating tools that exert control and dominance. Many who are drawn into by the lure of open source quickly discover that not everything is as free as it seems. While the code continues to be shared openly, companies often hold something back. Some charge for documentation, others charge for privacy, but all of the successful companies have some secret sauce they use to ensure their role.
Google, for instance, is increasingly flexing its muscle to exert more control by pushing more features into the ubiquitous Play Services. The Android operating system may be free and available under the generous BSD license, but more and more features are appearing in the Play Services layer that's hidden away. The phone companies can customize and enhance the Android layer all they want, but Google maintains control over the Play Services.
This has some advantages. Some developers of Android apps complain about the "matrix of pain," a term that refers to the impossibly wide range of Android devices on the market. Any app that they build should be tested against all of the phones and tablets, both small and large. The Play Services offer some stability in this sea of confusion.
This stability is more and more common in the professional stack as the companies behind the projects find ways to sustain the development. When the software is powering the servers and the apps that power the business, that's what the enterprise customers demand. When the software is running on cars, refrigerators, washing machines, and even mobile phones, that's what the rest of the world needs too.
This article, "Bossies 2013: The Best of Open Source Software Awards," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.