The Third Wave of Open Source Migration

The Third Wave of Open Source Migration

Is open source recession-proof? History has shown that open source is a powerful weapon to navigate a global downturn.

Recently, Dries Buytaert, creator of Drupal and co-founder of Acquia, published a blog post entitled Is open-source recession-proof? He wrote: 

“...during an economic downturn, organizations will look to lower costs, take control of their own destiny, and strive to do more with less. Adopting Open Source helps these organizations survive and thrive.”

I joined Red Hat in the aftermath of the dotcom crash in the early 2000s and lived through the rapid growth of open source during that recession. At the time, the main driver of open source expansion was UNIX to Linux migration.

And what was the single biggest driver of people abandoning their Sun Solaris servers and HP-UX or AIX installations and moving over to Linux? 

Saving money.

It was simply much less expensive to run Linux than UNIX, because Linux could run on relatively inexpensive Intel hardware. Companies of all stripes made the jump because—in the midst of a painful recession—they could save a lot of money without sacrificing performance, all while avoiding vendor lock-in.

In the early days of the enterprise business at Red Hat, Sun Microsystems was a goliath with over 30,000 employees and Solaris was arguably the de facto web server platform. By the end of the decade, Sun was a shadow of its former self—in large part due to UNIX to Linux migration—and ended up being gobbled up by Oracle.

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