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Open Source: Not Just for Tech Anymore

By Jay Lyman LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Jan 10, 2012 9:25 AM PT

Amid the many predictions for 2012 regarding Linux and open source software, including my own forecast of Linux domination, there is a larger, wider embrace of open source software taking place not only in the technology and other industries, not only in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America -- but all over the globe in new corners and facets of our society.

Open Source: Not Just for Tech Anymore

We've already seen the ideas and fundamental principles of open source software applied in other industries and sectors, including automotive technology and infotainment, healthcare, and the space industry, where NASA recently launched a new site for its open source code and activities. Now, it appears 2012 may be marked by a further expansion of open source ideas and ideals into new areas. A few examples include pharmaceuticals and other biological sciences, politics and publishing.

Pharma and Life Sciences

In pharmaceuticals, the debate over open source research, results and data continues. There are also some interesting ventures, technology and tools in pharmaceuticals, such as an open source image-sharing effort in clinical research. In addition, the technology industry trend of devops, whereby application development comes together with application deployment and IT operations, is propelling movement into more mainstream enterprises and new verticals, including pharmaceuticals and biological sciences, according to a few key devops vendors.

Along with devops, there tends to be a lot of open source software, from Linux to open source programming and scripting to databases and data management. The presence of open source technology in pharma and life sciences may drive a greater propensity and acceptance for open source research and results as well.

Politics and Publishing

Politics is another area experiencing a growing presence and impact from open source software and ideas. Many of the central tenets of the Occupy movement parallel open source software, including transparency, openness and collaboration. "Occupy" has been described as a type of "open source brand," whereby Occupy can be combined with other places, such as Wall Street, Oakland or Portland, and other ideas, such as banks, ports, etc.

Not surprisingly, open source is visible in its most basic form -- software -- in efforts, initiatives and offerings from Occupy protesters, including an open source-based, Occupy alternative to Facebook. As a political and protest movement, Occupy's efforts to build and expose its message will most likely drive more use and acknowledgment of open source software, as well as open source ideas.

Another area that continues to be fairly heavily influenced by open source software practices and ideas is publishing. Given the Creative Commons open source license, which continues to grow in use and popularity, particularly with Web and self-publishing, publishing continues to be ripe for open source collaboration and creativity. The same goes for other media and also government, where we see a growing impact from open source.

Enterprise IT and Mobile

Of course, I expect open source software will continue to be a key part of enterprise IT, particularly cloud computing, where we find open source components almost always lay the groundwork for cloud offerings.

I also expect a continued impact from open source in mobile software and devices. While it remains a part of technology, political and other debates, I also expect open source will continue branching out in new areas and fascinating ways through 2012 and beyond.

LinuxInsider columnist Jay Lyman is a senior analyst for 451 Research, covering open source software and focusing primarily on Linux operating systems and vendors, open source software in the enterprise, application development, systems management and cloud computing. Lyman has been a speaker at numerous industry events, including the Open Source Business Conference, OSCON, Linux Plumber's Conference and Open Source World/Linux World, on topics such as Linux and open source in cloud computing, mobile software, and the impact of economic conditions and customer perspectives on open source. Follow his blog here.

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