Open-source kick-starts 2005

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Product support and open standards were just two of the topics that sparked heated debate on open-source and software development among panellists during ITJourno’s Kickstart 2005 event over the weekend.

Product support and open standards were just two of the topics that sparked heated debate on open-source and software development among panellists during ITJourno’s Kickstart 2005 event over the weekend.

Peter Fletcher, managing director at Sybase Australia, said open-source was not a new phenomenon, and the release of open-source versions of operating systems such as Open Solaris and ideas like distributed computing or grid computing, were evolutions of concepts almost 25 years old.

Fletcher emphasised the importance of support for open-source products, as well as touching on the benefits of Eclipse (www.eclipse.org), an open and easily extensible development environment for software developers that is being developed by IBM and Red Hat, among others.

Paul Gampe, a senior engineer for Red Hat Asia also highlighted the importance of Eclipse and the fact that it will “create a level playing field” for software developers, regardless of the platform they are working on.

Kevin McIsaac, an analyst from META Group, was also on the panel. He raised issues about how open-source was being received by business, describing it as not being the “magic pudding” some have made it out to be. Although software such as Linux and OpenOffice may appear to be cheaper or better, businesses need to be aware of TOCs in the form of training, he said.

According to McIsaac, it is the quick iteration of products, to correct bugs and exploits and to add features faster than competing commercial alternatives, that was open-source’s main strength, as well as the freedom to “use it, modify it and redistribute it”.

The panellists stressed the need for open standards, a topic that could be considered separately from the push to adopt open-source. XML is the current buzzword as far as standards go, yet Gampe was quick to point out that XML means nothing if the standards being released are not open.

Logan Booker travelled to Kickstart 2005 courtesy of Media Connect.

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