Tech News World asks: Is E-Commerce Ready for Open Source?

A February 5th article by Jack M. Germain LinuxInsider(Part of the ECT News Network) breaks down some history of Open Source software and the recent history of the ecommerce industry since the chaotic days of April 2000.

Just like the Gold Rush of the Old West in the 1800s, the dot-com business surge had its fling and then fell off. Just like the rise of the Old West to a thriving community of states, the Internet is now a thriving home to a new world of commerce online. One of the driving forces for the resurgence of e-commerce is the increasing use of open source.

Germain charts out the scenario of an industry in transition and facing challenging technology choices and presents the perceived problem of lack of thorough integration for open source software.

“Thirty-seven percent of North American enterprises that sell products or services online will purchase a new e-commerce platform, according to Forrester Research. The options available to them include a considerable amount of open source applications. However, while open source is clearly making an impact in the e-commerce space, it is not yet fully integrated.”

After reviewing more industry history, discussing the Forrestor study and relating some examples and scenarios with Todd Williams, vice president of technology for Genuitec, EP’s Jason B. chimes in with his thoughts, …

The choices a vendor makes are determined to a great extent on their companies’ business preferences, Jason Billingsley, vice president of marketing at Elastic Path Software, told LinuxInsider. His company develops Java e-commerce software platform for building online stores and shopping carts. “Some complete applications are available for other business sets, but very few exist for e-commerce,” Billingsley said, adding, “I am starting to see lots of open source applications in use in enterprise.”

Then Jason offers up a mixed model approach for businesses, …

A trend is developing among applications developers in general to draw from open source programming and add proprietary code to develop a unique software product. This approach is becoming more popular with e-commerce. Many companies are starting to use a mixed model, according to Billingsley, combining open source and proprietary code. Companies that use this developmental approach do not release the complete program code, as is the licensing requirement under the open source. “That used to be done a few years ago but not so much now. Now commercial companies are starting to release code with licensing fees. We don’t need to protect our intellectual property openly because we integrate it with our platform. It is easier to license,” Billingsley explained.

Finally, both Jason and Todd sum up their future view, thusly, …

Elastic Path’s Billingsley sees the best of both worlds in combining proprietary and open source application code. “We’ve taken 90 percent of our platform and built services around it. We’ve taken database functionality and open source application servers — both proprietary and open source — and developed a product for cost savings,” he added. “In enterprise, applications can cost from (US)$30,000 to $100,000 for commercial product. We offer this function for free to leverage our product.” Williams sees a great future for open source e-commerce applications. Most companies are going to open source programs in one way or another. “Open source products are certainly going to continue. It is very prolific. I see it getting better choices. Larger vendors will adopt open source for its aggregation effect,” he predicted.


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