PayPal's open-source solution

PayPal derives massive benefits from open source, and points out how you can, too.

I've written before on PayPal's reliance on open source, but came across this article that takes it one step farther. Not content to admit to deriving benefits from open source, PayPal's Matthew Mengerink (VP, Core Technologies, PayPal) lists four things that any IT department can do to derive maximum benefit from open source:

PayPal transacts more than US$1,500 every second of every day, with millions of people around the world relying on the robustness of its system.

It comes as a surprise to many people that PayPal runs such a large financial services company on an open source platform, but that's precisely how we're able to deal with the two competing demands our business model places on us: security and innovation.

The economic, operational, development and security advantages of open source and Linux put us in the perfect position to both grow and innovate in a safe and secure manner.

Mengerink then launches into four ways in which PayPal derives particular benefit from open source. In addition to providing a free (as in cost) platform upon which his team can innovate, I particularly liked this suggestion:

The benefits our developers get from being able to work in the same platform as the production environment cannot be overstated. Open source environments are not as expensive to recreate as proprietary ones, and being able to work in a live environment enhances efficacy by an order of magnitude. When developers are testing things in the same environment that we actually have in production, we're far more likely to get a consistent and expected result.

This is one of those things that most IT staffs don't take into consideration when buying into proprietary vendors, but it's a huge bonus of going open source. Open source gives more consistency and flexibility to IT departments that care about cost, flexibility, security, and innovation.

Which I would assume includes everyone, though far too many continue to buy proprietary software as if it provides some special magic all of its own. It doesn't. The magic in the IT people who administer and develop it. Open source puts control back in the hands of the customer.

About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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