I was reading this OStatic interview with Ken Drachnik, marketing manager for open source software infrastructure products at Sun and a co-founder of GlassFish (Sun's open-source application server), and it made me wonder if it's time for some consolidation in the open-source stack. Yes, I'm the one who argues against consolidation in enterprise software, but another part of me wonders why we spend time reinventing wheels....
Yes, we have de facto winners in most software categories: SugarCRM in CRM, JBoss in application servers in enterprise adoption (with Tomcat winning out for unpaid deployments), MySQL in the database market, etc. Think of how much better these projects would be if we concentrated development on these, rather than creating a range of lightly developed and even more lightly used open-source alternatives.
I guess my underlying question is, "Do we need a myriad of open-source alternatives to the proprietary software stacks, or would we be better served with one or two rock-solid open-source alternatives?" I'm inclined toward the latter, as I think Linux, for example, is much better off for having three robust competitors (Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu), rather than dozens of also rans with no strong options.
To make this musing more concrete, would we be better off having Sun contribute its Solaris expertise to Linux? Should Red Hat give up on its ESB efforts and contribute to the Mule project? Should IBM dump its Geronimo efforts and give code to JBoss instead? And so on.