Open Solutions or Open Source?
Although not strictly contradictory, it makes for a nice title. This article is about one of Microsoft’s reactions to Open Source and one way in which it is delivering on its “integrated innovation”, marketing strategy.
The basic concept is that Microsoft takes a collection of their products, and applies them to the solution of a particular business need. They publish for free standard architectures, processes, templates etc. You can populate these architectures with some products of your own choice. In a way whilst this is not Open Source it’s a sort of Open Solution.
The concept is quite interesting to me because one of the challenges with Open Source software, due in the main to the way it is created, is how to build a coherent solution from the many different components, without some over-arching architectural vision. Where does this vision get created in the current Open Source development model? It happens within IBM, Red-hat and Novel etc and it probably happens in a proprietary way. Even if all of the source for the components in the architecture are Open, the architecture itself is likely to evolve in directions specific to the motivations of its creator and be effectively proprietary.
So I am left thinking should the emphasis shift from Open Source to Open Standards and Standard Architectures. Maybe this in the long run is more important. If the software that implements the standard happens to be Open Source then that’s all well and good, but at the end of the day possibly of only transient importance. In their own way, (Microsoft always do things their own way), Microsoft is giving us an example of Standard Architectures, implemented increasingly with Open Standards. Not quite what I had in mind, but it’s what got me thinking in this direction.