You may be familiar with the term “open-source software.” Typically, first thing that comes to mind when we hear open-source is “free.” The philosophy that defines the open-source software community broke off from the free software community in the late ’90s. The differences are small, and nearly all free software is open source, and nearly all open-source software is free.
According to the free software community, when software is referred to as “free,” it means the users’ have the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. This is a matter of freedom, not price, so think of “free speech,” not “free beer.” The open-source software community on the other hand emphasizes more on the development methodology.
But is open-source software just about price? I certainly don’t believe so. It is about innovation — innovation that is powered by vast community rather than a single company. It is the type of innovation that makes it feasible to reach and impact people across the whole world. We all have the power to contribute. It is indeed by the people, for the people. Open-source is disruptive innovation. Open-source developers did not create iPhone, but they certainly are the ones that put iPhone-like capabilities in the hands of billions of people through Android.
In his opening speech at Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in April in San Francisco, which I had the opportunity to attend, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst laid out compelling arguments that enterprises today don’t models. He argued that commoditization of technology changes the way innovation occurs, moving from vendor-led to user-led.
Every technology company and technology buyer should be thinking where they should be using open-source. Following are some benefits of using open source:
- Great Value — Provides enterprises cost savings and desired ROI with low cost of entry, especially for pilot projects and initial rollouts.
- Quality — Open-source software is adopted because it is reliable, resilient and adaptable. Its performance exceeds most of the commercial software.
- Secured — The open-source community can fix security vulnerabilities much more quickly than commercial software vendors can.
- Collective Intelligence — Open-source community resources are available to answer questions, explore ideas and resolve issues.
- Source code — Complete access to source code is made available, allowing you to be in control of your destiny. Enhance it, contribute to it.
Be innovative. Be open. Using open-source technology one can build something that is not available anywhere else, and then a price tag can be put on it.