There are so many software tools to choose from for each of your particular business needs. As open source options continue to increase and become more mainstream, it’s not just small companies that are partaking. Large enterprise are also dipping into the Open Source software pool. Although having more options and possibly lower costs is what most organizations look for in technology, there are some concerns when opting for OS vs. traditional commercial software.
The success of Open Source software in a firm’s environment requires critical support from strategic sourcing, governance, and engineering for it to be considered for use by a firm. Since companies differ on these points, I asked a group of developers, information technology (IT) experts, and software engineers how they personally feel in regards to OS, as well as the attitude of their organization.
What is the Current Attitude to Open Source Software in Enterprise Companies?
Our panelists agree there is a shift towards OS vs. commercial software and many of them prefer it. A Chief Technology Officer, Vinay Manne, brings up a valid point, referring to the role of cloud technology and the use of OS: “The adoption of open source technologies has been increasing consistently over the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies, especially with modern day software and infrastructure services being enabled through the cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS).”
Sandy Bishone, Consultant, IT and Software Development, shares her thoughts on the reason for the shift towards OS: “Other than cost, the primary advantage of open source is the wide-scale potential use of the tool, which can lead to crowd-sourced improvements for the benefit of all.” Obviously, it’s imperative the software be kept up to date, especially since OS is known for making changes to enhance the tool – part of the draw.
What do you see as the drawbacks in Choosing Open Source Software?
The experts understand the benefits, but more importantly they realize the concerns and know that making any purchase should be well thought out and is typically not done overnight. Additionally, Anoop Vijayan, Kubernetes certified DevOps Lead, points out, “Open source is good but should be chosen carefully. Always select open source products/tools which have had constant releases, have been maintained longer and have more activity. A wrong choice in either end can fail you.” In the end the cost of these additional efforts must still have a positive ROI over the commercial alternative and not negatively impact time to market.
Who is Responsible for Adopting Open Source Technologies?
Depending on the organization’s policies, OS may not even be an option regardless of cost or other advantages. Many decisions have to be made prior to deciding on new technologies. The firm’s strategic sourcing and governance process for introducing OS products must meet the business case standards, security review, and whatever internal reviews apply prior to introduction. New technology should be more efficient and cost effective while at the same time not introduce security vulnerabilities.
The decision should involve critical thinking as SQA Expert, Brian Watson’s example suggests: “I have been in organizations where groups have done tool evaluations and selections or they were done by a central group; meaning a central group would do the final approval of the tool. This method cuts down a bit on the ‘cowboy culture’ when it comes to tools.”
Obviously, there is much to consider when moving towards OS in the enterprise. It’s not something you jump into overnight. But, those that have made the leap believe it’s worth it.
Christine Bentsen is the Product Marketing Leader for Broadcom. She is a high-energy innovator adept at working with customers, creative resources, and developers to achieve the best results possible. Christine is a results-oriented DevOps product professional with extensive experience launching new products and expanding markets for existing products.