Jan Wildeboer, Red HatJan Wildeboer, Red Hat

Unpacking all things open source, Red Hat’s open source evangelist for EMEA, Jan Wildeboer, stressed that open source software means increased flexibility and freedom.

During his keynote address at the Virtual Data Centres Forum, Wildeboer, sporting his trademark red hat, provided a brief history of the development of open source, open standards and open content.

For Wildeboer, open standards are particularly necessary when talking about virtualisation and cloud computing, and he said open source is the next big thing in this space, particularly when talking about migration to another vendor. “Locking you into a solution and driving up the exit costs is what vendors do. Open source is all about zerocost switching; what we care about is proving ourselves to you every day, and if you don’t like it, you can walk away,” said Wildeboer, adding that this kind of pressure only serves to make open source software vendors better at their jobs.

“Closed standards are really dangerous because they destroy the level playing field in the market,” said Wildeboer. Interoperability is something that open source software vendors strive towards, and this is what drives open source business. He described a lack of interoperability as a “cartel” that facilitates vendor lock-in.

According to Wildeboer, open source software has proven itself in the market, delivering more value for less money. “Eighty percent of the public cloud market is run on open source analytics, and 100% of the stock markets on this planet run on Linux,” said Wildeboer.

The event also featured a panel discussion on the value of vendor-supported open source software. The aim of the discussion was to unpack the vendor-supported open source software phenomenon and detail what opportunities this kind of software creates for virtual data centres.

“Open source is everywhere, especially in data centres. And the real value of vendor-supported open source software is to address some of the potential business risks that were previously not addressed,” said " rel=tag>Muggie van Staden, MD and CEO of Obsidian.

According to Linux Warehouse MD , vendors give a company “peace of mind” because they have the technical knowledge and skills to take care of problems for the organisation and ensure they do not happen again.

This sentiment was shared by all the panellists. “I think one of the most important things is the support. With open source products, the products are typically developed in the community, and what an open source vendor does is take that risk out of the community and support it in a long-term way,” said , MD of Linux System Dynamics.

“With community support, you will most likely have to filter through 200 answers to your question, but with vendor support, they give you valuable answers in a quick and efficient way,” said Franco Austin, business development manager for application solutions at .

Jan-Jan van der Vyver, Linux WarehouseJan-Jan van der Vyver, Linux Warehouse

The panellists also discussed the pitfalls of vendor lock-in and the resultant costs of migrating to another vendor. “You need to think about what the cost is of getting off a certain technology. With open source, migration is a lot simpler,” said Van Staden. Using open source software simplifies the migration from one vendor to another, as there is no real reason to retrain support staff, according to Austin.

During the forum, Philip Booysen, a technical specialist at , discussed his experiences with vendor supported open source software while working at the bank.

According to Booysen, his team promotes the further adoption of open source software within the bank, and it is important for to train its staff to be competent in handling this kind of software.

“The open source drive at has been phenomenal. Our online banking and mobile banking are all thriving thanks to open source and Linux,” said Booysen.