Open source is the best way to build and distribute software. There are few things about which I'm more convinced. In some, but not all cases, Open Source also offers a viable business model. When it does, it's great because it allows you to do well and do good at the same time. I'm convinced that Open Source is the future for all software needs, but niche applications. I believe in this so sincerely that I've spent over ten years of my life building Open Source software, and I haven't once faltered on my resolve. In fact, I've become more convinced over the years.
The second factor about which I'm convinced is that traditional hosting as we know it today will be for bespoke applications. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will become the de-facto standard for building and hosting web applications, especially in combination with Open Source web applications. I believe in this so much that I've been betting Acquia on it since its inception three and a half years ago. Now it seems the markets are aligning with that vision: the hosting industry, after years of being dormant, is going through a new innovation cycle driven by "cloud computing".
With both Open Source, PaaS and SaaS, the question is not if it will happen, but when. The transition is inevitable; it might take ten, twenty or thirty years, but it's just a matter of time. The terms PaaS and SaaS might die along the way, but their concepts will certainly remain and change the hosting industry.
I'm willing to bet that in the future, every Open Source web project that wants to reach a certain level of adoption, will have to provide a PaaS and SaaS offering in order to be truly relevant. I think that's exciting because it creates new business models for Open Source projects which will help fuel the Open Source movement. In fact, I hope that Acquia can become a role model for other Open Source projects and Open Source companies. It's going the take plenty of hard work, but the passion and the conviction is certainly there.
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