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Open Source for the Enterprise by Gautam Guliani, Dan Woods

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The Elements of Open Source Maturity

As mentioned previously, the elements of open source maturity are direct indicators of the potential difficulties you can encounter when using open source. The specific elements of open source maturity we will discuss are:

  • Leadership and culture

  • Vitality of community

  • Quality of end-user support

  • Extent and scope of documentation

  • Quality of packaging

  • Momentum

  • Quality of code and design

  • Quality of architecture

  • Testing practices

  • Integration with other products

  • Support for standards

  • Quality of project site

  • License type

  • Potential for commercial conflicts

  • Corporate commitment

Each of these strengths is directly related to the difficulty an IT department will encounter when using the software. These criteria are not absolute. Some are fuzzy, some are matters of taste and judgment, and many overlap in different ways.

As an IT department becomes more adept at using open source, the weaknesses that are difficult to overcome during an open source deployment will become easier to understand and identify.

Leadership and Culture

One of the most important factors in evaluating the maturity of an open source project is the quality of its leadership. Are they serious developers with a strong understanding of technology and the kinds of problems that you, with a business at risk, are facing? What previous successes do they have to show for their work?

Unlike a commercial software company, open source projects don’t rely on CEOs or directors—individuals, that is, whose reputations, ...

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