Once upon a time in IT, using open source simply meant Linux instead of Windows, or maybe MySQL instead of Oracle.
Now, there is such a huge diversity of open source tools, and almost every leading digital business and tech startup is making extensive use of them. It’s been a remarkable turnaround for open source over the last 10 years, placing the trend firmly at the heart of the digital revolution.
The explosive growth of e-commerce, mobile and social media has completely altered the customer’s lifestyle and buying habits. Today, organizations are expected to engage with customers in Omni-channel environment. They need to create a customer journey. This is the driver of digital transformation.
A key differentiator for these companies is often real time interaction with the ability to try something out fast, to create a new experience in real time. They have two fundamental challenges – reducing costs and growing revenues.
There are various advantages of open source tools and platforms:
- Costs: The less a company spends on proprietary software, the more it can dedicate to other facets of digital transformation efforts, since there is no need to pay per server, per core or per user license fees
- Faster time to market: Less expense & time that would go with traditional, lengthy evaluations of legacy software solutions and commitment to specific technologies that may lock them in
- Fail Fast: Quickly test and experiment with emerging technologies without the risk & see whether it succeeds or fails and move on
- Security advantage: the transparency of open source code means that bugs are more easily found and patched, and users can inspect the code they're using themselves, which is not so possible with commercial products
- Community Backing: Open source software allows companies to derive benefit not only from their own IT employees, or from the employees of proprietary software vendors, but from the whole open source community
- Customization: The flexibility provided by open source allows users to add features freely, and reformat, refactor and redevelop their platforms however they see fit
Here are some examples of open source successes:
- MongoDB a NOSQL Big data database is used by Expedia, MetLife for customer 360 view
- Liferay portals are used by Santander Bank, Allianz Insurance & London borough
- Apache Spark has emerged very quickly as a faster successor to Hadoop's MapReduce
- LinkedIn’s developed and built Apache Kafka as the messaging backbone
- Drupal is used by GE, P&G and other global organizations for their websites
- Google, Amazon, Facebook Microsoft and even Apple have made their platforms open to public.
The rapid adoption of open source technologies across organizations has provided a network-effect of reliability in scalability, affordability and adaptability.
Not only are these traits critical to open source technology, but they are also necessary for successful digital transformations in business to bring in whole new business models and the platforms that are dominating our economy.