The open source community is surely a force in today’s world. I started thinking about the “off shoring” comments made on a few blogs that I follow on planet lotus and I decided to think about what I would do from a business perspective if I was in the position of looking for a new job, new business opportunities, or a way to use my software engineering skills going forward. One of the things our industry has that many other industries do not have is this thing called “open source”. This is a huge opportunity for software engineers and developers. From contributing to the projects, using the projects in your company or supporting/extending them for other companies – many options are possible. This could easily save your company thousands or millions of dollars in software fees. Not only can you save money with your own company but you could become a consultant or support specialist for the many open source products out there, or build new solutions based on an open source package. Just look at how Damian started CouchIO, a company who creates solutions based on CouchDB. Taking your skills to new areas is really what it’s all about. Blogging, networking, authoring, and “getting yourself out there” are all critical aspects of making it in a global field. Specializing in one or more of these open source technologies can reap great rewards in the end.
The communities around open source vary with regards to quality and actual usefulness. You can see my personal list of tools I use at home in a previous blog post. There is also a great list over on lifehacker if you want a comprehensive list of available tools for a given category. Apache is the place to start for back-end business software – everything from J2EE web servers to authentication protocols.
- Administration – Webmin
- Apache – the best solutions for a wide variety of areas.
- Blog – WordPress
- Browser and Email – Mozilla FireFox and Thunderbird
- Customer Relationship Manager Software – check out this from top ten from insideCRM.
- Database – CouchDB, MySQL
- Development platforms – Eclipse (the one and only in my opinion)
- Development languages – (too many to list) Java, PHP, etc.
- Networking – WireShark,
- Office suite – Open Office
- Operating System – Ubuntu Linux
- Router Software – DD-WRT
I think this could warrant some attention. Knowing all of the areas where open source touch and being able to piece together solutions using free/open source software would be an interesting skill to have.
As with many, my biggest problem would be engaging in new areas that I am not intimately familiar with as most of my career has been focused on Notes and Domino technologies. So if your area does not support the Notes market place then you may want to consider relocating or learning some open source areas and applying the cool things you have learned working with Notes in some new space.
I would be interested to hear others opinions on this touchy subject. This of course is just an idea and an actual business model that brings in money has not really been brought out yet.