The old “open vs. proprietary” debate is over and open won. As IT infrastructure moves to the cloud, openness is not just a priority for source code but for standards and APIs as well. Almost every vendor in the IT market now wants to position its products as “open.” Vendors that don’t have an open source product instead emphasize having a product that uses “open standards” or has an “open API.”
“Openwashing” is a term derived from “greenwashing” to refer to dubious vendor claims about openness. Openwashing brings the old “open vs. proprietary” debate back into play – not as “which one is better” but as “which one is which?”
What does it mean to be open? And how can you tell if a product is really “open”?
The article goes on to recommend paying close attention to licensing, the community, and a vendors proprietary products to see if their software and APIs are truly open source or just wrapped in a open blanket to take advantage of the latest buzz words.
Over the years I’ve seen a number of instances of openwashing, most notably with companies who built commercial products around a core of open source projects. The companies would make big noise about being open source and such, but community releases would just be a mash-up of other open source projects with the glue and features that comprised the real product they wanted to sell held back as proprietary.
So, buyer/developer beware. That open source based product that looks so cool may really just be a mirage.