The Case for Adopting Open Source – Own Rather Than Rent the Foundations of Your Business

  • Ben Slater, Chief Product Officer at Instaclustr

  • 16.09.2020 03:15 pm
  • open source

For some time open source was seen as something that only the biggest companies could use and play with. But with the modern, increasingly fast business environment, the use cases for open source are in everything and the technology is increasingly being adopted by companies of all shapes and sizes. Businesses that have major ambitions for scale or want to be a market leader now view open source as vital and not merely as something that is “nice to have”.

Compared to a decade ago, business applications are being developed at a far larger and grander scale to serve a global customer base. Businesses serve customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year and are increasingly software dependent. Consequently, this demands that technology must be able to scale faster than traditional commercial providers can manage.

Running a modern business on inflexible software increases the risk of costly outages exponentially. The cost of unexpected downtime could cripple a business so open source offers a far more reliable and scalable alternative. According to Gartner, revenue losses alone from IT outages average $5,600 per minute but the human or reputational costs can be a lot more damaging if a business is on software that isn’t fit-for-purpose

Open source is also an attractive alternative for businesses that want to avoid becoming trapped by their software providers. Vendor lock-in is a very real problem and being held hostage with increasing contract cost isn’t a viable risk for organisations where software is the foundation of their business. Commercial vendors simply rent the software and the licenses which your business depends on. Once you’re in, what’s to stop your landlord from increasing your rent? They have the keys to your business so many are pressured into simply agreeing to increased costs.

Open source is like owning your own home. You own the foundations that your business is built upon. At Instaclustr, we’re seeing increasing numbers of enterprises adopt open source. After all, it’s only the foolish man who builds his house upon the sand that is traditional commercial software.

At its core, open source is a community project. Around the world, developers and coders contribute to the project by building the code and making enhancements to keep open source software fit-for-purpose. Open source service providers help enterprises understand what is going on at the source level and help contribute back to the project by making their own enhancements.

The development of open source software doesn’t become a competitive differentiator between industry players but more an incentive to share the burden, build upon the foundations and improve the software. However, the sheer number of contributors can cause challenges. Some open source projects receive nearly 5,000 new lines of code every day so it’s not impossible for a project to mutate far from what the original creators had in mind. Again, service providers help enterprises navigate this potential quagmire and their expertise in working to well-proven governance models from the likes of the Apache Software Foundation can prove to be a worthy differentiator.

Adoption of open source is likely to continue – by enterprises and giants in the gaming, financial services and telecommunications – as every company is now a software company. The need to innovate faster to stay ahead in the marketplace has never been more important and proprietary software is more of a hurdle than a springboard. The maturation of the industry also means that people have a greater understanding for the need of governance, clear license terms and the technology itself.

However there’s no expectation that you should know how to make every facet of open source work for you. That’s where service providers enter the picture as they know how to navigate the landscape and work with multiple technologies to determine the best software for the needs of every business.

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