In life, the only constant is change. Open source projects are no exception, having undergone massive transformation in recent years.

By Sarthak Rohal, vice-president: IT services at In2IT Technologies

Some changes have benefited users at large, while others have hindered innovation. Nonetheless, open source persists in popularity and is still meeting its original objectives of being fully open, accessible, and ‘free’.

It still has the potential and promise to be a game-changer for industries the world over.

The adoption of open source is expected to continue with the same level of enthusiasm and, for business applications, open source software (OSS) is often the first choice.

Although early advocates focused on lowering costs, a deepening ecosystem of integrations and developer skill sets focused on open source solutions has cemented the importance of open source in the enterprise.

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. Let’s take a look at what the future holds for businesses and OSS.

OSS: choosing the future

Open source has become recognised as the top choice for software development for companies concerned with remaining future fit, as it permits IT departments to get their ideas to market faster.

Open source plays an important role in high-tech industries in particular as it eliminates the need for expensive licenses, enabling software to be installed with no fees and no limit on the number of software installations. The move from proprietary software toward open source solutions is accelerating rapidly, and enterprise open source is expected to play a larger role in emerging technologies over the next two years.

Enterprise open source continues to gain at the expense of proprietary software and this shift has not been subtle, particularly considering that enterprise software deployments are not known generally for rapid change. Some mature enterprise-grade OSS faces a lower risk of becoming obsolete because of the developing community’s involvement.

Conversely, companies relying on proprietary software run the risk of software getting discontinued or paying more over time since digital technology is rapidly evolving.

Driving forces behind OSS adoption

Open source enables cost and time savings for businesses while improving efficiency and contributing to increased developer satisfaction and flexibility.

Critically, eliminating vendor lock-in is becoming more important for organisations, which is enabled by the reusability of open source developed features as adoption increases. Today, 83% of organisations continue to contribute to open source, and nearly half have a policy in place that governs their contributions.

Enabler of business strategy

The biggest strategic consideration is the fact that open source is free. This allows the company to spend time and money only on developing the tools or functionality they require, without having to start from scratch. The less money spent on a product, the lower its end price which makes it more attractive to potential subscribers.

Accordingly, open source is the gateway to the future with web, mobile, and cloud solutions being increasingly built on open source infrastructure. Some data and analytic solutions are only available in open source and future architectures are highly likely to be based on open source.

The same goes for web solutions, where the large majority of websites are based on open source technology as well as cloud solutions, where almost all (with the exception of Microsoft’s cloud) are based on open source solutions.

The move to an OSS must be carefully planned, which requires a thorough evaluation to be conducted. The right support will be necessary in order to ensure that organisations maintain high availability, reliability, and scalability.

This can be done by:

* Setting up an Open Source Programme Office in the Commission;

* Establishing and promoting the inner source default;

* Enhancing the software repository;

* Revising software distribution practices;

* Enabling and creating innovation with open source labs;

* Developing skills and recruiting expertise;

* Increasing outreach to communities;

* Integrating open source in internal IT governance;

* Ensuring OSS security;

* Encouraging and promoting inner source; and

* Engaging a trusted partner to facilitate the journey.

OSS will soon be the foundation for all architectures, making it a safe bet moving forward. However, with every step into new territory, it is important for companies to be prepared and informed on their journey.

Thus, when implementing OSS into the business strategy, it is necessary to keep the following principles in mind: think open, transform, share, contribute, secure, and stay in control.