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May 17, 2007

Fonality's Garrison Talks About Pros, Cons of Open Source During Communications Developer Conference

By Greg Galitzine, Group Editorial Director

Fonality’s (News - Alert) Kerry Garrison, senior product manager, trixbox, made a presentation entitled “Considering Open Source?” before a crowd of developers during the Communications Developer Conference on Wednesday afternoon.


Garrison presented an overview of the open source movement and suggested to developers that they need to do their homework and decide whether open source is right for them.

Garrison delved into a bit of the history of open source - and explained that open source is not new by any means. He gave several examples:

--We have been trading code since the very first computers
--There was a time when we would order code from a catalog
--Magazines had source code available through barcodes
--USENET was a wealth of source code

Of course, one of the hallmarks of open source is that once a project reaches a certain critical mass, it can become a disruptive force. Garrison provided several examples of the more well-known disruptive open source projects:

--Linux – very successful in the operating system wars (ubuntu on the desktop?)
--mySQL – took on big database installs, and has had success
--Asterisk (News - Alert)/trixbox – big success story in the PBX/telephony space

Garrison pointed out several advantages - as well as disadvantages - of open source software, and posed the following question: “Where can this go?”

He believes that developers will face a choice between commercial and noncommercial opportunities. As a project matures, Garrison feels a commercial angle is usually appropriate to support the user base.

Garrison offered the following advice to developers considering an open source project – as well as some important questions to ask:

--If you want to work on an OS project, make sure you are comfortable with the team
--Is there a project roadmap?
--Does the project get updated on a regular basis?
--Is there good code control?
--Do your homework – stay on top of trends and developments

Finally, Garrison suggested that developers do some soul searching. Should your project be open source? It all depends on your needs, he said. Do you want help? Are there elements you cannot do yourself? Are you comfortable dealing with remote developers?

Weighing the pros and cons, Garrison concluded by telling the audience that “open source can be rewarding - it presents an opportunity to work on larger projects than you could do on your own.”

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Greg Galitzine is group editorial director for TMC (News - Alert). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

(source: http://opensourcepbx.tmcnet.com/topics/open-source/articles/6937-fonalitys-garrison-talks-pros-cons-open-source-during.htm)






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