Friday, October 04, 2002

Buzzword alert: "open source"

Over the past month or so, I've noticed some ERP and supply chain software vendors refer to their products as "open source," when in truth all they are doing is making their proprietary source code available to clients, something that many software vendors have been doing for years. You buy a license for Package X, and the vendor provides some (or even all) of the source code so that you can modify it, but only for use within the licensing entity. That last condition is what makes proprietary code propietary. When you license proprietary software, you have no right to redistribute the product, even if you have the source code. Open source, on the other hand, is a specific licensing model whereby the author(s) of the software freely distribute the source code along with the rights to redistribute it. The details of various open source licenses, such as the GNU General Public License (GPL), are more complicated, but that's the gist. For a more information on the meaning of "open source," see the definition on the Open Source Initiative (OSI) web site. Examples of true open source software include the Linux operating system and the Apache web server. To my knowledge, no vendor of significant ERP or supply chain management application systems licenses their system on an open source model. If you know of an ERP or SCM system that is truly open source, please e-mail me.