The last time I honestly gave a thought to the future of open source was back when I was downloading code snippets to save myself time prototyping applications. That’s not to say I don’t think about open source, but I don’t actively debate it the way I used to.

These days, open is just the way to do things, from running on AWS to coding in Ruby on Rails to the app distribution model to sharing information over social media.

Open just is. For me. And by me I mean an entrepreneur. To a lot of people, open is still this weird, almost hippie sharing concept that means you can steal music for free – even though we don’t do that anymore.

I do see that open source is just now being universally accepted by corporations, governments, and the general public. It’s time to level up, so to speak, and Todd Lewis, the Chair of All Things Open, is acutely aware of how fragile the open movement can be at any given time, especially now.

“If we don’t enhance the open movement now, it’ll die on the vine,” he told me. “We see it trending, especially in the startup world. These are people who have to bootstrap their companies, and often do it in open source technologies.”

Lewis and ITology, a non-profit dedicated to advocating IT as a profession, are bringing the All Things Open conference to Raleigh on October 23rd and 24th. It’s a spin-off of the PossCon unconference they’ve held in Columbia, SC for the last several years. Lewis had always wanted to do something in Raleigh, and a conversation with Red Hat’s Jason Hibbets a couple years ago started the ball rolling.

“I got tired of having to get on a plane and pay a ton of money to go to a really good professional conference,” Lewis said when I asked him about the inspiration for All Things Open. “The average person can’t do that unless they’re sponsored by a company.”

And that runs against the spirit of open source, namely, people working together to make something better than it would be with just an individual or proprietary effort. Red Hat, one of downtown Raleigh’s anchor tech companies, made money by boxing open-source Linux and offering support, a fine example of turning open source into a viable business.

This mission, of bringing IT and open source to the masses, is exactly how they get such big name speakers and participants to the conference and still be able to offer admission at a price that you and I (entrepreneurs) can afford.

“Our ROI is tremendous,” Lewis said. “I’m a stickler about providing people value. For the money, the speakers, the companies, and the content they will get is unmatched.”

That’s not smoke. The speaker list includes Open Source Execs (who knew there was such a thing) from Google, Twitter, IBM, HP, and Oracle, leadership from GitHub, Red Hat, Mozilla, Paypal, Cloudera, and Apache, and other authors and leaders of entities dedicated to the open movement. The full list of speakers is available here (including several from the Triangle itself).

What To Expect

“Big data and cloud computing are both going to be very very popular,” Lewis answered when I asked him what he thought would be the most talked-about topics over the two days. The amount of data now being generated actively and passively is nearly limitless. “The ability to house it and the analytics around it are huge. Open source is a big part of that.”

Hybrid clouds – environments that include internal and external clouds – should also be vigorously discussed.

On the programming side, Python is extremely hot right now. “Jessica McKellar, director of the Python Foundation, is coming from Boston to speak,” Lewis said. “She’ll be doing a talk on Python.”

Of course, expect to hear a lot about Ruby on Rails as well.

The emerging track should cover up-and-coming things like healthcare, hardware, 3D printing and such.

And on the business side, “Branding is extremely important to open source,” Lewis said. “Because what you’re doing is available, it is not a competitive advantage, your brand is. Red Hat will talk about ‘the brand is all you’ve got’ – that should be one of the best talks there.”

There will also be sessions on patents and licensing.

The PossCon conferences regularly got between 500 and 600 attendees, and Lewis expects around that same number for All Things Open. Early bird pricing ends today (October 16th).