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Open Source Economics Enables Innovation

  • March 18, 2010
  • By Developer.com Staff

Without open source software Google couldn't exist.

That's what Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said at the Open Source Business Conference this week. At the very least, Whitehurst said that Google certainly wouldn't have adopted its current business model without open source software.

In his column, The Open Road, Matt Asay wrote that Whitehurst said Google couldn't afford its planned 10 million servers if it had to purchase proprietary licenses for each of them.

"Adding up the roughly $2,000 in software costs per server (for the operating system, database, etc.) means that it would take roughly $20 billion for Google to run those 10 million servers with proprietary software," Asay wrote.

Of course, as Asay points out, Google probably could afford that today, but not when it was getting started. But then again, when Google was just getting going it didn't need 10 million servers.

However, in just six years the conversation at OSBC has changed from wondering how open source will survive to how much longer proprietary software can remain relevant.

"At the inaugural Open Source Business Conference in 2004, the discussion centered on how to fund open source's survival," Asay wrote.

Now he said, "the OSBC conversation has taken a 180-degree shift to focus on whether proprietary software's shelf life is nearing its end as open-source software economics increasingly drive technology innovation."






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