This is an article from the June 2006 issue of DM Review's Extended Edition. Click on this link for more information on DMR Extended Edition or to download this issue in a PDF format.
In his award-winning book The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman argues convincingly that open sourcing is one of 10 significant "flatteners" changing the world. Though much of that disruption is just now starting to play out in the market, it's safe to say that the open source software movement is no longer at the fringes of the technology. The successes of Linux, Apache, JBoss, MySQL, Postgres, OpenOffice, Mozilla and Perl, to name just a few products, have changed the landscape of IT, probably forever. While open source communities are thriving, businesses building on the open source model are just starting to hit their stride, struggling with strategies of how to make money surrounding "free" products. The successes in open source are expanding its scope, particularly as Fortune 500 software consumers and producers commit. Most open source technology use to date has been in commoditized areas, especially those serving ubiquitous infrastructure needs. But this is starting to change, and open source commercial business intelligence (OSBI) platforms are emerging. Still, the serious OSBI products are just now coming to market, and the business models driving the product companies are works in progress. While these companies, platforms and business models evolve, there is no need for patience from companies seeking BI answers. "Poor man's BI," the integration of open source stalwarts Python, PostgreSQL, OpenOffice and R, can be used to provide a meaningful startup BI solution now.
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