Gartner Research

Open Source Software: Risks and Rewards

Published: 01 August 2005

ID: G00203141

Analyst(s): Gary Hein


Open source software (OSS) is changing the landscape of information technology (IT), from hardware and software vendors to system integrators. What are the risks and rewards of using OSS? Which companies, services, and tools help bridge the technical, legal, and support gaps? What impact will OSS have on your vendors? In this update, Senior Analyst Gary Hein reviews the current state of OSS, with particular attention given to business models, software licenses, vendor risks, and recommendations for enterprises as they evaluate and adopt OSS in their environments.

Table Of Contents



  • What Is OSS?
  • OSS Is More than Just Source Code
  • OSS Freedom Carries a Price
  • New Software Licenses
  • OSS Introduces New Legal Risks
  • Software Commoditization—Full Speed Ahead
  • OSS Business Models
    • Hardware
    • Services and Support
    • Management and Integration
    • Dual Licensing
    • Application and Data Lock-In
    • It's the Intellectual Property, Not the Software
    • Sue Your Customers and Competitors
  • Vendor Reactions
    • IBM
    • Sun Microsystems
    • Microsoft
    • Red Hat
    • Oracle
    • The Superplatform Effect
  • Recommendations
    • Cost/Benefit Analysis Is Essential
    • Go for Infrastructure, Get with the Community
    • Understand and Mitigate Legal Risks, If Possible

The Details

  • Software Licenses
    • GNU General Public License (GPL)
    • GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
    • The BSD, MIT, and Apache Software Licenses
  • Other OSS Licenses
    • Dual Licensing
    • Microsoft Shared Source License Programs
  • License Enforcement
  • OSS Development Principles and Processes
    • Sun's New Java Licenses
  • Additional OSS Resources



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