OSS is acknowledged as the future of software for computing infrastructure and applications

Yogi SchulzOpen-source software (OSS) was dismissed not so long ago as the ugly stepchild of enterprise software packages. Many executives viewed OSS as a cheap, unreliable, and problematic alternative to licensing proprietary software packages from major software vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.

Today, OSS is widely installed, accepted, and acknowledged as the future of software for computing infrastructure and applications. Even major vendors of proprietary software packages have jumped into co-existing with OSS and offering related services.

OSS permits licensees to run, modify, and copy the source code without a license cost. Often OSS can also be re-distributed by licensees if they so desire. Well-known OSS examples include Linux, ERPNext Cloud, and a considerable amount of software from the Apache Software Foundation, such as Hadoop, HTTP Server, and Spark.

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In the past, affordability was the main reason for deploying OSS. Today the benefits of OSS extend much further by supporting the following:

  1. Shorter time to market for new concepts and capabilities.
  2. Innovation in products and services.
  3. Digital transformation of organizations.

These OSS benefits have led to widespread and growing adoption.

OSS operates a capable software development community

A talented community committed to software quality and continuous improvement typically enhances and maintains OSS. Often the community consists of unpaid but experienced individuals. Some licensees support the community by allowing their paid staff to spend part of their time on open-source community work.

When the community is sufficiently large and active, its software production and quality are superior to that of the staff of proprietary software vendors. The proprietary software vendor’s net revenue constrains the vendor’s development and support staff size.

This community aspect of OSS can lead to the faster introduction of new concepts and capabilities with fewer defects than is possible with proprietary software.

OSS provides freedom

OSS licenses provide the licensee with the source code of the software. Access to the source code allows the licensee to modify the software. This freedom to do what you want with the software provides the following benefits:

  1. More responsive to changing business requirements.
  2. Faster resolution of software defects.
  3. Scheduling a migration to a newer software version is determined by your organization as opposed to being mandated by the vendor.

Proprietary software vendors provide the licensee with the object code to the software package. The object code limits the licensee by:

  1. Preventing the licensee from making changes to the software.
  2. Creating dependence on the support infrastructure of the software vendor.
  3. Creating reliance on the software vendor’s new feature definition and release schedule.

Organizations can use OSS’s freedom to pursue innovation in products and services.

OSS advances digital transformation

To achieve meaningful steps along the path to digital transformation, organizations need a lot of software to enable maximum automation and business process improvement. Examples include software components for:

  1. Software-defined computing infrastructure (SDI).
  2. Development operations (DevOps) because no organization can rely entirely on software packages.
  3. A hybrid cloud based on OpenStack or an alternative.
  4. A more sophisticated suite of applications.

All this software is available from various OSS communities. It’s not conceivable that an organization can acquire and maintain all this software from proprietary software vendors plus in-house DevOps.

Instead, organizations can use this wide variety of OSS to pursue digital transformation.

OSS avoids software vendor lock-in

Operating OSS provides the licensee considerable choice in maintenance and support strategies such as:

  1. Outsourcing to one of several competing vendors.
  2. Insourcing to a maintenance and support team.

Proprietary software packages lock the licensee into the software vendor. This lock-in is often not a problem when the initial deal is struck. However, over time, the following software vendor issues can create problems for the licensee:

  1. Deterioration of service quality.
  2. A change in vendor strategy that reduces or stops investment in the software package.
  3. The vendor being acquired by another company that produces a change in emphasis that negatively affects the software package.

OSS offers zero software license costs

Often the initial reason for deploying OSS is zero software license costs. Licensing a proprietary software package requires paying a significant license fee.

Also, OSS licenses typically cover an unlimited number of end users, while the fee for proprietary software packages increases with the number of end users.

Zero software license cost allows organizations to spend their resources on innovation and digital transformation.

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

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