Fonality’s Kerry Garrison, senior product manager, trixbox, addressed the assembled crowd of developers at the Communications Developer Conference on Wednesday afternoon.
In a speech entitled “Considering Open Source?” Garrison presented an overview of the open source movement and suggested to developers that they need to do their homework and decide whether open source is right for them.
Garrison delved into a bit of the history of open source, and it turns out that open source is not new by any means. Garrison gave several examples:
- We have been trading code since the very first computers, he said.
- There was a time when we would order code from a catalog.
- Magazines had source code available through barcodes.
- USENET was a wealth of source code.
Of course one of the hallmarks of open source is that once a project reaches a certain critical mass, it can become a disruptive force. Garrison provided several examples of the more well-known disruptive open source projects:
- Linux – Very successful in the operating system wars (ubuntu on the desktop?)
- mySQL – took on big database installs, and has had success
- Asterisk/trixbox – big success story in the PBX/telephony space.
Garrison pointed out several advantages as well as disadvantages of open source software, and posed the following question: “Where can this go?”
He believes that developers will face a choice between commercial and noncommercial opportunities. As a project matures, Garrison feels a commercial angle is usually appropriate to support the user base.
As for advice to developers considering an open source project, Garrison told the audience to ask questions, and find out if the project is right for them.
- If you want to work on an OS project, make sure you are comfortable with the team.
- Is there a project roadmap?
- Does the project get updated on a regular basis?
- Is there good code control?
- Do your homework – stay on top of trends and developments.
Finally, Garrison suggested that developers do some soul searching. Should your project be open source? It all depends on your needs, he said. Do you want help? Are there elements you cannot do yourself? Are you comfortable dealing with remote developers
Weighing the pros and cons, garrison conclude by telling the audience, that, “Open source can be rewarding. It presents an opportunity to work on larger projects than you could do on your own.”