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When it comes to innovation, Open Source is leading the way: 5 things everyone should know about OSS


4 July 2017:
Martin Percival

Martin Percival

Principal Solutions Architect
Red Hat

Guest blog:  Martin Percival, principal solutions architect, from Red Hat, highlights 5 reasons to take a fresh look at Open Source Software

Open Source Software (OSS) has come a long way since its inception and has achieved mainstream acceptance within enterprise organisations. The fact that Microsoft, Google and Apple are embracing open source has further aided adoption of the technology. 

In 2015 Apple announced it was making open source a key part of its strategy and promptly demonstrated commitment by open sourcing its programming language Swift. In the same year Microsoft, traditionally viewed as a proprietary software organisation, announced it was open sourcing some of its core technologies, including .NET and Visual Studio to catch developer mindshare.

Google is known for releasing a lot of software as open source, including both Android and Chrome OS, their Linux-based operating systems. However, Google also open sourced its artificial intelligence (AI) engine TensorFlow to the entire world, enabling any individual or organisation to build AI applications.

The future of open source is dynamic and full of possibilities and here are 5 things every channel partner should know to maximise opportunities:

  1. Flexibility and agility – organisations are free to use OSS source code in whatever capacity is relevant for their business. Whilst proprietary software ties companies to an imposed vendor vision and licensing model, with OSS organisations are free to innovate and can influence direction by actively engaging with the open source community. This not only grants organisations freedom from vendor lock-in but also assures the long-term viability of the open source solution.
  2. Cost-efficiency - OSS is a key agent in enabling more cost-effective solutions in the enterprise. However, simple price advantage hasn’t always overcome the challenge to wider acceptance posed by the rapidity with which free open source projects move, and the need to wait for updates rather than install a patch for a specific problem.
  3. Quality and continuous improvement – findings from a recent survey[i] revealed that 65 per cent of companies are contributing to open source projects. With OSS, companies are developing features or applications they need, rather than what a vendor thinks their customers want, and it’s this flexibility that is driving collaboration. Open source code is constantly evolving with a community that is fixing bugs, making tweaks and continuously engaged in improving it. The result is a peer review process that ensures quality and accountability, with security holes or code glitches found and quickly fixed.
  4. Innovation – the open source world is where the cutting edge of innovation is happening. The OSS community is one of passionate and bright individuals that advocate for greater participation and collaboration, working together to build high quality products. This belief drives innovation within the community and underlines the mission to build features and applications that are relevant and solve real-world business problems.
  5. Open source is a phenomenal driver of recruiting and retaining the best talent because it is unequivocally at the leading edge of technology. By demonstrating their technical credibility in open source, organisations ensure they are desirable to the next generation of software talent emerging from colleges and universities. Furthermore, by supporting developers to work on the latest and best innovative code and projects, companies can ensure they not only recruit but also retain their in-house talent. In a recent survey, 67[ii] per cent of companies said they actively encouraged their developers to engage in and contribute to open source projects.

Undoubtedly, organisations need to consider risk management when developing open source business critical applications that require structured support. However, that doesn’t mean proprietary software is the only option.

Commercial open source vendors such as Red Hat deliver the many positives of open source combined with the benefits of enterprise class support. They have the expertise to understand business drivers, help formulate solutions and manage the execution.

Commercial open source vendors are notable problem solvers in the world of OSS and employ developers that actively engage with the community, driving innovation and quality. The benefit to customers is a supported and quality assured solution that has undergone rigorous due diligence and comes with the guarantees usually associated with proprietary software.

Channel partners can maximise on the surge of interest in OSS by understanding the solution offerings from established and pioneering players in the commercial open source space.  The best place to start when it comes to open source is distribution, which has the knowledge and experience to point you in the right direction to make the most of the opportunity.

For more information, please contact our software team on 01344 355 726 or email swsales-uk@avnet.com

 

Red Hat


[i] The Tenth Annual Future of Open Source Survey

[ii] https://www.slideshare.net/blackducksoftware/2016-future-of-open-source-survey-results%C2%A0 – Slide 26

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