Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Thoughts where open source will fail in corporate America

I am a big fan of open source especially within the enterprise. The problem remains that certain aspects of innovation would never occur in an open source way. For example, if you look into the security space for ways to encrypt hard drives, you will find a wonderful product named truecrypt. The problem is that the open source community will view any form of "backdoor" as evil yet many laws that corporations adhere to require them...

Pretty much every single corporation requires the ability to have key escrow functionality in encryption products so that whenever they receive subpeonas from their favorite attorney generals for information they can comply. They also have to adhere to a variety of laws so as to keep the workplace safe from those who have pictures of kids on their computer. All of these require backdoors into the protection mechanisms. Projects such as truecrypt have taken the perspective that backdoors are evil and therefore they will never gain the support of corporate America and its ability to throw large pockets of cash at the problem space.

Many enterprise architects are big into the notion of IT governance (I am one that is but of course use a different definition). Since the open source community by its very nature wouldn't ever have the personal need for governance frameworks, it would be challenging to see any useful solution emerge in this space.

Other areas which are also rarely explored are software projects targeted at the mainframe which is partially due to the fact that much of open source is written on commodity Intel platforms and therefore most people don't have access to a mainframe to do such development. There are many wonderful opportunities that could be explored here. Imagine if Ruby on Rails ran on Z/OS? What if the Mono Project were also ported to Z/OS? What would happen if someone wanted to write an open source equivalent to RACF and/or Top Secret that plugged into the SAF interfaces? The community of course could extend this code to make it directly support SPML, Infocard and SXIP.

If anyone has thoughts on how to change the perspective of the open source community so that it becomes even more open, then please do not hesitate to trackback to this post. Let's continue the dialog...

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