NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The short answer is no. But it's amazing how often I hear otherwise.
After all, critics of open source will note, "Intellectual Property" (a lawyer's term for patent, copyright and trademark rights) is America's key advantage in global competition. Open source throws that away. Might as well turn over the keys of American exceptionalism to China and turn out the lights, goes the implication.
Turns out there are two kinds of software. There are tools, which are used to create new software, and there are applications -- the programs that actually do things.
Open source mainly works with tools. The Linux operating system, the Eclipse set of programming tools, Apache's set of web tools, the OpenStack cloud stack. These programs improve everything that runs on them. They make applications easier to write, they make them more secure, they make programmers more productive.Put it this way. The biggest support of open source in the enterprise is International Business Machines (IBM). IBM is not stupid. Making coders more productive reduces the need for coders. Coding is the strength of our rivals in the software business. Our strength lies in imagining new things for software to do, in detailed design, in getting products to market. Better coding doesn't change that. For all software buyers, meanwhile, the bottom line is the bottom line. Earlier this summer my friend John Weathersby of the OSS-Institute, an advocate for open source use in government, brought together hundreds of open source business executives along with top managers of the National Security Agency and other security agencies. The cops and spies want and need better tools. Open source provides them. So they want open source. Weathersby has also helped with the launch of Suricata, an open source security suite that is drawing immense interest from governments because it's open source, because it's extensible, because it can be customized, because governments can see and edit the code. Open source is the right way to develop better software tools. Better tools mean more productivity in coding and testing software, the parts of the process where you now need a lot of low-cost people.
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