It seems like ages ago but back on July 12 (the best day of the year…bar none) I wrote a post looking to the Free Loader Factor within the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Community. In the next couple of days I want to dive into how the concept of Open Source has entered into the world of Enterprise IT, what the benefits and what the ramifications are. Today I will look at some of the things that have moved us towards the brave new world of “Everything as a Service” but tomorrow it is into how to protect your “hard earned data” from this FOSS invasion.
There is no greater example to how Open Source has entered into our lives than to look to the Smart Phone Invasion that is seeing more than 500,000 new Android Powered devices being activated every day! Based on the Linux Kernel, Google has built the Android system from the ground up to pay tribute to its own foundation within the Open Source Community. As devices like these come into our lives we soon expect them to be supported by our employers and there is coming a day when the desktop laptop world will be completely agnostic when it comes to what the OS is that runs in the background.
What has pushed us to this FOSS adoption rate that sees Open Source Alternatives gaining ground at a tremendous rate…the CLOUD! As we live our lives more and more in a virtualized world and return to the “Distributed Computing Model” of days gone by we no longer need ever more powerful computers to do our day to day work. Even Microsoft has joined the world of contributions to the Open Source Community becoming one of the largest contributors of improvements to the Linux ecosystem!
In a world that is more consumed with “EaaS – Everything as a Service” the browser truly becomes the great equalizer. Google even built an entire OS around the Chrome Browser and in playing with the ChromeOS on my older eeePC Netbook I am quite impressed. When you can do everything from play games to be productive all in the comfort of a tabbed browser without all the extra weight of an OS like Windows, Mac or even one of the 1000s of Linux flavors it starts to make sense…it is rather “cloudy” out these days but with the ever increasing cost of licensing all that installed software!
When we look to this new paradigm that many are calling the “democratization of IT” or even worse the “consumerization of IT” we see that the role of an IT Professional is shifting rapidly to the Little Dutch Boy plugging the holes in the Dike of consumer devices and new services penetrating into the Enterprise every day. This has been an on going challenge for the modern IT Department for some time as the role of the knowledge worker has provided a nearly unlimited access to the latest and greatest technologies that are easy to purchase and even easier to use (unlike the bloated and cumbersome systems that have dominated the Enterprise for years).
It might be easy to simple give in to these demands and simply state: IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM…JOIN ‘EM but I truly feel that there is a better way that bridges a gap that exists in business today between the wants and needs of the knowledge workers and the stewards of the Corporate Networks that reside in IT. This epiphany is based on the insights from a recent IT Solution Set developed by Info-Tech Research Group, finding the balance between opening up the Wild West and locking down the Network like a Russian Gulag must become an imperative for all IT Departments. But it is also supported by all the major IT Research firms like the work that IDC did for Unisys in looking at the Consumerization of IT (see the summary report here).
But if we look to the Consumerization of the hardware with iPhones, iPads, Tablets, Macs and Linux being brought into the office and at least provided a tacit level of support by IT, what about the leveraging of FOSS applications directly? How can an IT Department that may consist of just one, over worked and under supported person possibly maintain a stable and safe network that is open to everything and anyone with an internet connection at home to be able to install ANYTHING on their personal laptop and bring it into work?
That will be a story for tomorrow with Part 2 of this story when I will look to building the better Sandbox that allows for the freedom of choice, while still maintaining the security required in the modern enterprise.
Chris J Powell