Open source is the modern model of architecture and the engine for innovation
The shift to open source software (OSS) is one of the most important current trends in technology, yet surprisingly little is discussed when compared with the proprietary businesses built with OSS at its foundation.
A recent international survey (The 2016 North Bridge Future of Open Source Study) of C-level and senior technical staff on software development trends provides some strategic insights, including a primary conclusion that open source is seen as an engine for innovation. The study indicates “it has moved from being the exception to the rule and is the foundation for nearly all applications, operating systems, cloud computing, databases and big data.”
The study reported that “90% (of respondents) reporting they rely on open source for improved efficiency, innovation and interoperability. The most compelling reasons cited in the survey for use of open source included flexibility and freedom from vendor lock-in; competitive features and technical capabilities; ability to customize; and overall quality.” †
Open source can offer huge benefits. While transitioning from closed to open systems is no trivial task, organizations that fail to embrace it, risk being left behind as their competitors capitalize on the new possibilities offered.
The advantages of open source, both to IT departments and the enterprise customer, are manifold. Perhaps one its most important attributes is the access to greater innovation that OSS affords. The combination of open source software, open systems interoperability and open standards has created a self-reinforcing community of shared research and development, and a pooling of creative ideas.
One of the drivers for open source adoption is its ability to let innovative organizations create and map IT solutions for their own precise business needs. Innovative leaders are not necessarily opposed to proprietary software, but often see it as limiting their abilities to pursue certain paths of opportunity. Open source, they believe, supported by its flexibility, customization, cost effectiveness and enhanced speed to market, can provide a competitive advantage over proprietary products.
Another important, yet often overlooked, advantage is better access to skilled, motivated and innovative people. A generation has now grown up with the internet and with open source. They want to work with these systems and tools rather than the closed and proprietary approaches that are frequently seen as being more limiting. If companies want to attract the best talent, they must embrace open source software.
Once open source has been successfully integrated into the IT environment, enterprises seem to unanimously agree that it has helped them improve customer service while reducing related costs by fast adoption of new technologies and continuous software updates. This is especially true for the banking, financial services, and insurance industries. When faced with an ever-faster pace of change, open source provides an important competitive weapon by encouraging a quicker response to changing requirements. The speed of change in many markets, especially those with a consumer focus, is now relentless. The availability of a wide range of cost effective development tools, the ability to scale rapidly and access a global community of shared knowledge, all favor the use of the open approach. Having an IT infrastructure that is able to support the required commercial agility is a key to success.
Part 2 of this series discusses specific benefits of and the primary considerations for developers who are considering a move to cost effective, flexible, secure and faster to market software solutions.