Open Source – The Productive Choice

Recently, our CTO was asked the question by CIO Magazine, who were over interviewing him about BackCountry.com’s use of Open Source Software and our success in using it for a very successful retail company. The question was,

“How has your company saved money through Open Source Software?”

He responded with a list of applications we use and their proprietary equivalents and what it would cost to purchase and support those equivalents. He then mentioned the number of developers it would take to support the proprietary software, vs the thousands of developers working on the software in an Open Source application.

That got me thinking. Why would I not want to make my work more productive? I am paid to make my work as productive as possible. Therefore, if I can write a piece of software that others can then use to make their work more productive, and receive help in developing that software, making my development faster, why don’t more businesses release their code to the community? All costs aside, wouldn’t this be the most productive method of doing my job?

Not too long ago, Open Source was born with a group of developers going to school with a similar problem – they wanted to make their work more productive at that school. The GPL was born, and now we have Open Source. We have the same problems in the workplace today as those students did back then. Why not share our code between businesses? It’s good for the marketplace, it’s good for individual businesses, and will definitely put harder, more productive work in the workplace, stimulating the economy even further.

Perhaps the real answer to stimulate America’s economy and therefore put us in better competition with the Global marketplace is to get rid of our greediness and share our code and other technologies! The wheel is reinvented way too many times in America.

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