Open source is big business. To quantify and define "big business," how about I throw out a number - $2,000,000,000. That is a lot of zeros! But what does it represent?
It is a figure that Red Hat has surpassed for its 2015 earnings, as it just posted revenue of $2.05 billion for last year. This makes it the first-ever open source software company to ever meet or exceed $2 billion in revenue in a year.
"Enterprises increasingly adopting hybrid cloud infrastructures and open source technologies drove our strong results. The fourth quarter marked our 56th consecutive quarter of revenue growth, contributing to Red Hat’s first fiscal year crossing $2 billion in total revenue", explains Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat.
"Customers are demanding technologies that modernise the development, deployment and life-cycle management of applications across hybrid cloud environments. Many are relying on Red Hat to provide both the infrastructure and the application development platforms to run their enterprise applications consistently and reliably across physical, virtual, private cloud and public cloud environments".
Does the average person care much about Red Hat's financial health and performance? Probably not. With that said, for the overall open source movement, this milestone is definitely important from a historic perspective. This major Red Hat moment, when combined with the increasing instances of major companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google embracing open source, shows that the movement is strong and growing.
Most importantly, it shows that closed source is not the sole way that software companies can generate revenue. Heck, future generations may look back decades from now in disbelief as to why we accepted using software that wasn't open source.