The Great Debate: Open Source vs. Closed Source For Enterprise Software Infrastructure?


Ernest Lefner

Co-founder and Co-chairman, ONUG

SVP Architecture and Engineering Executive, Bank of America

Pro Closed Source:

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Charles Giancarlo

Senior Advisor, Silver Lake Partners

Pro Open Source:

LewTucker Headshot

Lew Tucker

Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Cloud Computing, Cisco


Many in the ONUG Community are struggling with the use of open source code as part of their software infrastructure especially with the emergence of open sourced networking and storage efforts. For example, OpenStack has significantly beefed up its network and policy software stack. The Linux foundation has launched the OpenDayLight, OpenNFV, and Cloud Foundry initiatives, while OCP kicked off an open source reference switch design with an open switch OS initiative. Open Source projects promise vendor lock-in mitigation, lower costs, and the ability to tap innovation from all corners of the world. But are they delivering on the promise of open?

Even one of the most successful open source projects, the OpenStack Foundation, is more fragmented than the Android market with proprietary and non-interoperable distros from Red Hat, IBM, HP, and others. All of these initiatives are vendor governed and funded on the order of $500K to $30K per year, per vendor member plus developer contributions which places control firmly in the hands of the vendors from which IT business leaders are seeking relief. Closed software, while it’s proprietary, comes with service and support plus a regular cadence of updates as well as APIs to support vendor specific ecosystems.  The bottom line is that you know what you’re getting with closed sourced software.

In this ONUG great debate of open versus closed source software, we’ll explore both sides of the argument with healthy involvement from the ONUG community.