How Facebook Will Fuel The Next Wave Of Open Source Businesses

It’s no longer in doubt: Facebook is the world’s largest open source company. Facebook could already have been considered to be in the open source lead through the release of its datacenter designs, databases and more. This week’s open-sourcing of a network switch (Wedge) and its operating system (FBOSS) have cemented Facebook’s place atop the podium of open source contributors.

But have they also sounded the death knell for open source companies?

After all, with so much incredible open source code emerging from Facebook, Google (which released PDFium this week), LinkedIn and others, is there still room for companies to sell open-source software?

Inside The New Software Factory

It has always been true that most software is developed for use, not sale, as author and open source advocate Eric Raymond famously pointed out in his 2001 book The Cathedral And The Bazaar. Yet most of our attention has been on software vendors as we place bets on Oracle or IBM, SAP or Microsoft et al.

These are billion-dollar software companies, but the overall value of software being developed by open-source communities and behind the enterprise firewall is in the trillions of dollars, Red Hat’s Michael Tiemann highlighted in 2009.

While nearly all software has been constrained by myopic, proprietary licensing, that’s starting to change. Facebook and other Web giants recognize great value in releasing their code. The best developers want to work on the best code and increasingly the best code is open source. So Netflix, ostensibly a streaming video company, regularly hosts open source engineering days at its headquarters and makes a point of releasing its software in order to attract developers. That being said, Netflix did announce this week that it will be retiring its public application programming interface last week.

All of which is great: more open source, more awesome. But for all the open-source software being developed and released by such companies, precious little is being supported in a way that makes it easy for mainstream enterprises to embrace.

Spit, Polish And Commitment

A good case in point is the Apache Cassandra project, which Facebook built and open sourced in 2008 to support its messaging system. Two years later, Facebook had moved on. As the company iterated on its messaging system, Facebook switched from Cassandra to Hbase:

In 2008 we open-sourced Cassandra, an eventual-consistency key-value store that was already in production serving traffic for Inbox — For more information read the original article here.    

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