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Open source's non-problem with interoperability

Why does the media continue to believe that open source has a problem with interop? The opposite is true.

It's really funny, though a bit pathetic, to see the media pick up a theme and run with it. In this case, it's the idea that open source has problems with interoperability, and that it's somehow crimping open-source adoption. This is ironic because proprietary enterprise software has had this problem for decades...and still does. In fact, it is the fault of proprietary software that we have an interoperability problem at all.

Open source, thriving on open standards, is a huge step in the right direction.

It's also ironic because if you talk with MySQL, Alfresco, SugarCRM, Loopfuse, MuleSource, etc. you'll find that not a single one of us is seeing this interoperability problem crimping adoption. Want to integrate Alfresco with Sharepoint or SAP? Done. Much more easily than between proprietary systems. Ditto for other solutions.

And yet this myth persists with those who should know better. Perhaps because the media asks vendors who depend on enterprise fears over interoperability, rather than asking customers themselves. eWeek's sources for the articles above are the very organizations set up to solve a nonexistent problem.

But eWeek gets one thing right in asking John Roberts for comment. John correctly notes that there is a material difference between the open source you might randomly find on Sourceforge and the commercial open source you buy from Red Hat, MySQL, Alfresco, etc:

There is a significant difference in quality, flexibility, control and cost--each of which favors the commercial open-source model. As more and more companies consider open-source solutions in their evaluations, we need to make sure the differences are explained clearly.

I'm not sure I'd go quite that far - at least, not in all cases - but it is true that open-source vendors take interoperability and quality just as seriously as proprietary vendors...and are often better set up to deliver on those attributes. If a major customer wants MuleSource to run with Tibco, you can bet MuleSource is going to make it happen.

The difference is that it won't be stymied by its inane proprietary licensing that inhibits interoperability. Open source equals better interoperability, not worse. Get the facts straight.


Disclosure: I work for Alfresco and am an advisor to MuleSource and SugarCRM.