It is no secret that open source technology has been an accelerator for tech industry titans like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, inspiring the shift away from traditional closed source models of the past, where software is developed and implemented in-house. But can it really make a difference to other businesses?
In a world experiencing a sprint towards digital transformation and innovation, businesses are continuously seeking ways to improve and implement technology with the least disruption, investment and time consumption as possible. But with a wide range of products and services available out there, all with varying ways of achieving an end result it can be a complex maze for CIOs, CTOs and other business decision makers to navigate.
Enter the sharing culture – aimed at utilising the hive mind concept to share code and then build upon it to bring new levels of innovation. Through truly sharing the foundations, open source software can dramatically lower costs by building agile software organically and collaboratively, offering a strong and critical foundation for digital transformation.
Here are five reasons why open source technologies are beneficial for businesses looking to stay competitive in digital transformation.
- Benefit from collaborative innovation
Businesses are evolving their mindset on open source, and are realising that the culture and methodology behind an open source community means an increase in innovation and efficiency. By bringing together a network of developers that have a diverse range of expertise, knowledge and best practice efficiencies a business can benefit from great minds across the globe. This collaborative approach provides a much more holistic solution to the final product and encourages businesses to share their knowledge to help other organisations to improve.
- Stronger Foundations for businesses to build on
Scalable and reliable architecture is foundational to the business case for open source solutions. Peer-reviewed open source software has the potential to be a lot more reliable and offer highly-scalable, highly-available, and high-performing technologies.
Building on the point of collaboration, there is an aspect of safety in numbers with many experienced eyes looking at, reviewing and contributing to the source code and fixing identified flaws. It also means that the foundation code is strong and any issues can be easily traced back when developing on or integrating.
For example, companies like Netflix—whose service has long run on Apache Cassandra clusters—utilises the scalability of open source to its advantage. The automated tooling Netflix has developed enables it to quickly deploy large scale Cassandra clusters. Such open source solutions demonstrate a level of reliability, robustness and agility under fast-changing conditions.
- True Open Source means freedom
Businesses need assurance, flexibility and agility when building, deploying and operating applications through licensing – but not all open source licenses are created equal. There are three main categories of open source licensing – Permissive Licenses, CopyLeft Licenses, and Custom Licenses:
- Permissive Licenses are those that allow broad, free use, and modification of the software with minimal restrictions on how the software can be used, modified, and redistributed
- Copyleft licensing, on the other hand, allow broad, free use, but require that any modifications be made public under the same license
- Custom Licenses are the licenses created by corporations for their own use. Such licenses are typically owned by open core companies that prevent others from using their software for deploying as a managed service and have become increasingly prominent over the last few years.
Businesses need to consider the implications of the open source licence of which the technology is governed. There can be cost implications when the product is not true Open Source, which can lock businesses into hefty licensing fees.
- Harnesses the power of sharing
Just like the concept we learn as children, open source sharing also provides positive benefits. It is not just a community, it’s a movement – a culture. Over the past few years, we have seen the growth of open source accelerate across today’s enterprises and businesses as it opens its software to community supporters that can help securely contribute code, peer-review, innovate, build and motivate them to improve the quality of the solution.
- Lower costs, higher returns
With shared ideas and data comes the added benefits of shared costs, making open source a great financial decision for businesses. The four different open source technologies, Apache Cassandra, Apache Kafka, Apache Spark, and Elasticsearch offer different benefits particularly around cost, flexibility, and freedom that makes it unique and valuable to businesses:
- Open source is free and the costs of development are shared across the community so it’s a lot more cost effective to produce refined and robust solutions.
- The time to get the solutions off the ground and pushed to market is much faster and efficient due to community input.
- Open source technology provides cutting edge technology and meaningful community support at a more affordable cost. This economic advantage of open source solutions easily translates into a competitive one as opposed to open core that encourages vendor lock-in and is therefore more costly, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that sees your application managed and hosted on another company’s server that will see less control and potentially opens you to more hidden costs.