Even today, the general consensus still stubbornly persists that Open Source software is developed by ponytailed computer geeks as a hobby in the middle of the night. It’s admittedly a very romantic notion, but one which only reflects the reality to a certain extent.

The Linux Foundation recently published a very interesting document on who actually contributes to the Linux kernel. Since 2005, some 11,800 individual developers from around 1,200 different companies have contributed to the Linux kernel. The fact that recently at least 88.2% of the improvements came from people who are also paid for this work – a growing trend – is proof that more and more IT professionals are also working on Linux.

The companies which contribute most to the Linux kernel include well-known hardware manufacturers such as Intel, IBM, Samsung, AMD, and Nvidia as well as the software craftsmen at Red Hat, Oracle, and SUSE. These corporations have been earning good money with Linux for years, are well aware of the fact, and invest in the further development accordingly as well.

Open Source as a business model

Over the last ten years, a number of enterprises have managed to establish a noteworthy and sustainable business for themselves using Open Source software. Among them we find familiar faces such as RedHat, MySQL, SUSE Linux, and Canonical as well as Cloudera, Hortonworks, MongoDB, and Docker, which have really taken off in the last few years along with the cloud boom.

Make money with Open Source softwareUnivention has also picked up on this trend. We joined the Open Cloud Alliance, founded by Univention, in December of last year. The concept: Univention Corporate Server offers an open and standardized integration platform onto which software manufacturers such as Open-Xchange can simply “mount” themselves, and with which hosting and IT service providers can quickly offer an extensive portfolio of enterprise applications.

Univention Core Edition simplifies viral distribution

With the latest amendment to its license model, Univention has taken the next step. The simplified and free use of the Univention Core Edition is set to ensure additional distribution of the Univention platform, making it even more attractive to software developers who want to offer their solutions in the Univention App Center. As a result, cloud service providers will soon be able to use it to access an even more comprehensive selection of integrated applications.

The future is in the cloud

This gives the user the long-term choice between on-premises operation, hybrid scenarios, and pure cloud solutions, as Univention supports the different operating models both from a technical perspective and with its license models.

Even though there will still be good reasons for many on-premises application scenarios for a long time yet, cloud architecture’s ultimate victory is unavoidable: The cost benefits are simply too enticing.

However, in order to avoid waking up in a “vendor lock-in” one morning, users should choose Open Source software wherever possible. After all, only Open Source can guarantee interoperability thanks to compliance with open standards, which pays off for the users in the form of cost benefits, competitive advantages, innovation speed, vendor independence, and investment security.

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Rafael Laguna

CEO Open-Xchange AG

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