A lot of open source projects are started by developers. Relatively few are started by users, but that’s exactly what we did.
I first found open source software in 1999, when, after leaving a career on Wall Street, I helped start an online retail company, Gracious Style. My initial experience was with Linux, and I saw that it did exactly what our old Unix systems did, but for free. Then we began to adapt open source software to our business. First a CGI shopping cart. Then open source databases. Eventually, complete open source ERP solutions.
Why We Love Open Source
We love open source because it has done so much for us. With open source software, we have been able to deliver advanced eCommerce and ERP solutions for a fraction of the cost of commercial alternatives.
More important even than the cost, though, has been the flexibility and quality of the software. We found that once we had access to the source code, anything was possible. There was no limit to how we can adapt it fit our needs.
Finally, we never had to worry about our vendors going away or changing their plans on us. With the source code, we could control our own technology decisions.
What We’ve Learned
We’ve also learned some valuable lessons along the way. We saw that there were sometimes significant gaps in feature sets and available support between commercial and open source products. We also realized that open source communities, which are often developer-oriented, do not always meet all the needs of non-technical business users.
Finally, we learned this most important lesson: If open source gives you the freedom to do anything, you’d better know how to do it right. Like the old saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Seeing what it has done for us, I have no doubt that open source software offers great potential for other companies. So I’ve made it our mission to make open source succeed in the enterprise. In reality, this means bridging many of the gaps so that less technologically oriented organizations can reap the rewards of open source.
We want to be that bridge. It’s a big challenge that will no doubt take us on unexpected turns and require new ideas and new business models, but that’s just part of the excitement.
I hope you’ll be a part of our journey.
Open Source Strategies