Across the IT industry, open source software has been a part of major enterprise systems. At its simplest, a developer has an "itch" or a particular problem that needs to be solved, and writes a program to solve that problem. Maybe the developer thinks others have the same issue to solve, so shares the program under a special software license that allows anyone to make changes to the program to suit their particular needs. If the program is very useful, others may contribute improvements that make the program even better. The developer shares those improvements, for anyone to use, and everyone benefits.
In my own experience, I started experimenting with open source software around 1993. By 1994, I believed so strongly in the concept of open source software, that I shared my work on a new version of "DOS" with everyone on the Internet, under an open source license. FreeDOS is still used today - in embedded systems, in control systems, or just to play old DOS games. I've also written (or contributed to) dozens of other open source software projects: FreeDOS Install, FreeDOS Cats/Kitten, GNU Robots, GNU Emacs, hpCC, Freemacs, GTKpod, Atomic Tanks, Simple Senet, and others.
Open source software is part of the "DNA" of technology. It is everywhere, even if you don't see it. Many projects have gone unnoticed, largely because they live in the "backoffice" or "infrastructure" of an organization. For example, most DNS (which turns "blog.lib.umn.edu" into an address that your computer can understand) is actually running "Bind". The most popular web server today is Apache, often found running on Linux.
Sometimes, open source software makes its way into enterprise applications. Take for example, the Kuali system. The goal of Kuali is to bring the proven functionality of legacy applications to the ease and universality of online services. Among the suite of applications provided by Kuali:
- Kuali Financial Systems (KFS)
- Kuali Coeus (KC), a research administration system for higher education.
- Kuali Rice (Rice) (Software Development Simplified), a suite of middleware programs (workflow, messaging, identity management), interfaces and Web services around a service bus. With the Rice components, developers can more easily build and link applications as collections of modular, interconnected services.
- Kuali Student (KS), a student-centered web service architecture to provide students and administrators with tools to manage curriculum change and to develop individual Learning Plans.
- Kuali OLE (OLE), open library environment.
- Kuali Ready (Ready), an above-campus solution for business continuity.
Campus Technology has an interview with Lee Belarmino, the just-retired vice president of IT at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA, who was a first-adopter of Kuali.
It's an interesting case study of open source software on campus. Using a community source model (the same as open source software, but among a cohort of dedicated institutions) Kuali helps reduce the total cost of ownership of this enterprise application suite.
Belarmino: "For community colleges interested in open source today, there are some really good options. In the case of colleges looking into Kuali, they can benefit from all the previous development work already done by the Kuali Foundation. New users will inherit the software: They can download it and try it out for free and pay no license fee, if they choose to implement it at their institution. And they have the option to join the Kuali Foundation membership to take full advantage of community support and to participate in and influence the future direction of KFS plus a whole suite of Kuali software."