The Blurred Lines between the Open Source and Closed Source Worlds
A few years ago, one of our QA InfoTech management members was invited to a leading testing conference to moderate a panel discussion on open versus closed sourced software testing tools. While the heat between the two worlds was quite apparent back then, all panelists from both sides of the community logically helped drive the point home that they need each other—not only for healthy competition, but more importantly, for healthy collaboration, too.
This collaboration has become increasingly visible in the last few years among several leading players in the global technology footprint. Leaders have been announcing deals and mergers, such as Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of the large developer community GitHub and The Linux Foundation announcing mergers within the open source community. Even Apple, which is traditionally more inward in its approach, has not turned a deaf ear to the open source calls.
The blurred lines are visible across technologies, tools, testing solutions, and frameworks. It is not uncommon to find even the most commercial-centric technology vendors using open source testing solutions. Selenium, for example, has had an unprecedented revolution in its adoption and is still playing strong after several years in existence. A Selenium conference across the globe still draws a huge crowd even from the commercial players.
One of the important reasons for such strong embracing from both sides is the increased adoption of cloud computing. Commercial tools have switched to offering lightweight subscription-based solutions, have taken on more of an open source style approach for implementation, and understand the value of a huge community. At the same time, the open source teams have not ignored this change in commercial solutions while still retaining their core robustness. Thanks to the Cloud, both sides are better at appreciating and acknowledging each other’s offerings and collaborating in possible scenarios. Satya Nadella, in his book Hit Refresh, talks about how Windows Azure was renamed and engineered as Microsoft Azure so that it's usable by open communities such as Linux too. Did you know that Microsoft ASP.NET is now open source?
Beyond all of the above, what is central to driving this blur is the open source community itself. It's a community that is very receptive to change, agile in its thoughts and implementation approach, enthusiastic about excellence, excited about a huge network, and ever ready to socialize and help solve technical challenges across the board—healthy traits that are indicative of a thriving technology landscape. With due diligence from both the commercial software associations and the open source groups, once the code of conduct is ensured to be ethical and right, this blur will continue to happen for the right reasons.