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Open Source - Valuing its Impact on Businesses in 2019

Open source did influence business. Back in the heydays of the free software movement, businesses remained pessimistic and unwilling to shift. For them, the ideals of free software were unappealing. That was until the concept of free software got rebranded to open source. Consequently, software development underwent a transformation, keeping innovation and collaboration on the frontline. Organizations far and wide embraced open source and made it their de facto model.

Adoption was fast, as companies began preferring open source software like Linux and LAMP stack over proprietary software. GitLab’s 2018 Global Developer survey identifies the open source as a key influencer in the development community, acting as vital tools driving software innovation. Moreover, the results from a survey by The Linux Foundation, TODO Group and The New Stack shows some revealing insights:

• 72 % of companies use open source programs for internal processes and non-commercial uses.
• 59 % of respondents believe open source as critical to the success of engineering and product teams.
• 55 % of companies are using open source software (OSS) for commercial products.

Open source became quickly tied to commercial usage owing to its low cost of ownership, better yielding and improved reliability. Considering its obvious benefits, companies began using open source as end users and contributors for their internal processes and in developing software solutions for clients.

Bringing Flexibility to Business Processes

Flexibility is at the core of open source. There is no vendor lock-in making it free from any restrictions that come with proprietary software. Businesses can modify or redistribute the program freely giving them full control and ownership. Whereas, proprietary software is governed by a set of conditions related to usage banded together under strict licensing. There is no way to modify the code thus forbidding any customizations to the program.

Open source software is less resource consuming and does not force the user to go through a string of software and hardware upgrades to keep it running. The availability of several different plugins, extensions, and modules make it easier to expand the capabilities of open source software. This level of customization that open source software brings enable businesses to restructure their entire process around a flexible model, which amplifies efficiency all the while giving a competitive advantage.

Driving Value through Collaboration

Open source is all about collaboration. A dynamic community of developers stays behind the scenes acting as support, testing new variants, improving code, acquiring feedbacks and eliminating bugs or other inconsistencies in the program to make it further refined and adaptable for the needs of a diverse user base. That is how it drives value, by leasing the development process across an open community of developers and contributors to define the project in an open environment.

A closed project only involves a handful of people working behind. It is limited and does not always churn out the value that most businesses look for. Using open source for various projects help businesses foster innovation and improve collaboration across all levels of the development process. The wide range of inputs acting as a whole will spin off better outcomes that will help successfully complete the project way ahead of schedule.

Better Security and Quality

Is open source software more secure than their proprietary counterparts? In one way it is. Taking Linus Law into consideration - "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow", the inference is that any bugs or flaws are discovered and resolved quickly by exposing it to a large community of developers rather than just a handful. Since the code remains open, more users are constantly monitoring the program for bugs or errors. Open source software is continuously improving as fixes and updates occur regularly than proprietary software, which takes weeks and months to roll out the relevant patches.

OSS also edges it out when it comes to quality. Exposing the code to a community of developers not only ensure better security but improves on the quality side as well. Additions to security also come down to making certain enhancements and inclusion of new features that improve the user experience and functionality of the software each time. It ensures that software gets in line with the true requirement of a business and not the other way around.

More Efficiency at Low Cost

Businesses following an open source model benefit immensely when it comes to cost. OSS has a low total cost of ownership compared to proprietary software as the source code is left open to enable customization. This allows companies to customize the software the way they want rather than building a new one, which greatly reduces their operating costs.

Even though it has several additional costs for bug fixes, performance upgrades, scaling and training, all these are still lower when compared side by side with that of proprietary software. Moreover, open source programs, tools, and documentation are constantly updated by the developer community, which invariably adds to the efficiency of the business.

Wrapping it Up

Free software morphed into open source for the sole reason of becoming mainstream among businesses. It was one step in extending the benefits of free software to businesses, who were initially reluctant to adopt them. By rebranding as open source, businesses were the first to make the switch from proprietary software to leverage its wider benefits. Open source clearly had an impact on the technological landscape of businesses.

Several of its compelling advantages like low cost, added customization capabilities, enhanced security and collaborative principles have found favor among businesses of all sizes. It does not limit businesses in any way but acts as catalysts driving technological growth and enhancements in processes. Besides, it sets the model for a better business model centered around collaboration and adaptability.

Author Bio:

Sreejith Omanakuttan

I have been programming since 2000, and professionally since 2007. I currently lead the Open Source technologies team at Fingent as we work on different technology stacks, ranging from the "boring"(read tried and trusted) to the bleeding edge. I like building, tinkering with and breaking things, not necessarily in that order.

Top comments (1)

sainaresh81 profile image
Sai Krishna D

Miracles will happen when all technologies will be open sourced! Still more than 70% technologies are not open sourced! May happen in the future!