When it comes to business applications, Open Source Software (OSS) has become the technology of choice. In fact, according to a Red Hat survey on The State of Enterprise Open Source, 69% of IT professionals indicated that OSS is either highly important or very significant.

By Harkrishan Singh, director: application development at In2IT

Originally, this may have been due to cost reduction exercises, but over the years other benefits of OSS have emerged. These days, an entire ecosystem of integrations and developer skill sets has solidified its importance in the enterprise. Open Source is the future, but is your business geared to leverage it effectively?

A community of support

One of the original drawcards of OSS was the ability to customise the code to suit requirements. Today, this is not the case so much, since the world’s codebase is continually growing in size and complexity, and even popular OSS projects have become readable only to a niche community of maintainers and contributors.

However, the spirit of Open Source remains in that projects are contributed to by a global pool. For example, over 15 500 developers from around 1 400 companies have contributed to the Linux kernel since 2005, and they add 10 000 lines of code every day, making it the world’s fastest evolving project.

As a result of this collaboration, connection, and community involvement, many mature enterprise-grade Open Source tools face a lower risk of obsolescence. This is a significant drawcard in a world where companies relying on proprietary software run the risk of software being discontinued or paying more over time since digital technology is rapidly evolving.

Flexibility for the future

Open Source is recognised as the future of software development for forward-looking progressive companies, because it permits a company’s IT department to expedite the process of bringing their ideas to market.

This is an essential point of competitive differentiation in a world where agility and flexibility are critical to success. Web, mobile, and cloud solutions are increasingly built on Open Source infrastructure.

Even some data and analytics solutions are only available in Open Source. Future architectures are highly likely to be based on Open Source, as they are today in mobile solutions with the Android platform.

Driving Open Source into business

One of the biggest business benefits of Open Source is that it is ‘free’. In many cases, enterprise-grade versions of software do come with a price tag, but the code at the heart of it all is visible and available, and businesses are paying for the enterprise features they need to run their business.

This helps to improve cost efficiency, but at the same time, because the code base is open, it eliminates vendor lock-in, which is a significant drawcard. The open nature of the tools also increases developer satisfaction and flexibility and ensures that Open Source-developed features are increasingly reusable as adoption increases.

When it comes to implementing OSS into the business strategy, several principles should be kept in mind: think open, transform, share, contribute, secure, and stay in control. Openness, transformation, sharing and contribution lie at the heart of the Open ethos, but it is important as always to ensure security and to stay in control, for both business and compliance purposes.

The move to an OSS must be carefully planned, a thorough evaluation conducted and the right support put in place to ensure organisations maintain high availability, reliability, and scalability. Engaging with the right technology partner can help businesses to make the most of Open Source as the future of software and architecture, while avoiding any potential pitfalls they may encounter.