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Why there's no open-source standard-bearer for the network

Jon Gold | Dec. 3, 2014
Plenty of reasons, according to experts, including the difficulty of challenging established incumbents, the dangers of getting eaten alive by a large customer and the sheer scale and complexity of managing a heterodox network in an orthodox way.

"In the case of networking, for most customers, there's a greater motivation to let the vendor sit in the middle and integrate patches and be responsible for the operation of the network as a whole, than it is for, say, the typical use of Linux," Christy said.

Jacques argues that open-source's low-level presence on the network is strong, and could eventually diversify to the point at which smaller customers are more attracted to it.

"Open-source is a key underpinning of network management technology, but absent a "core platform," there's little chance of open-source making it to the app layer.

"[L]ook at what happened with Linux, for example. It took Linux being credible for running servers ... for people to look and turn it into something to run cars and phones and home security systems and all that," he said. "I think you'll see the exact same thing in networking, because you can't have an open-source app that sits on a proprietary platform."


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