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Open source to hit $22 billion by 2010. What this means for Red Hat and Novell

Red Hat and Novell have an opportunity. Will they seize it?

Saugatuck Technology has noted that at most 20% of software sold in 2010 will be open source. Proprietary software rules! Right?

It all depends on where you sit.

If you're a proprietary software vendor glutting yourself on the success of decades past, yes. By all means keep doing what you're doing. But if you're looking for rapid growth opportunities (i.e., 30 percent compound annual growth rate), open source is the way to go, to the tune of $22 billion, according to Gartner (and IDC).

Interestingly, this number jumps to $41 billion if you add in the $19 billion that enterprises will invest in internal open-source development instead of wasting it on proprietary software licenses, according to Morgan Stanley:

Forty-one billion dollars might not be much to an Oracle or IBM, but it's a lot of money to me. I'll gladly take it. (In fact, I am, little by little. :-) Today the open-source middleware, database, and application markets are relatively small. But we will comprise an ever-greater share of that $22 billion pie in 2010.

In fact, with Linux growth starting to taper off, I believe it is in open-source middleware/database/applications that the Linux vendors will have to grow. Red Hat clearly realizes this, having started to move up the software stack with JBoss, MetaMatrix, etc. Novell also realizes this, but seems to be hoping that its tired products from the last century will propel it forward. They won't. Novell needs to look forward with an end-to-end open-source offering.

This is the opportunity for Red Hat and Novell: to build competing (yet complementary in the way that open source often is, i.e., collaboration/competition on Linux, OpenOffice, Xen, etc.) open-source ecosystems. Novell's growth will need to come at Microsoft's expense, not from its fetters. There's simply no way to grow the open-source market without taking on Microsoft because the two are going after the same problem (complex, expensive IT), though in different ways.

The next three years will be fascinating to watch, but even better and more lucrative for the open-source industry's participants. Just as XenSource. Or Zimbra. Or Sleepycat. And so on.