Selecting technologies means committing to solutions that will support an active, growing business over the long term, so it requires careful consideration and foresight. When an enterprise bets on the wrong horse, the result is often significantly higher development costs and reduced flexibility, both of which can stick around for the long haul.
In the past decade, adoption of open source software at the enterprise level has flourished, as more businesses discover the considerable advantages open source solutions hold over their proprietary counterparts, and as the enterprise mentality around open source continues to shift.
Enterprises looking to make smart use of open source software will find plenty of great reasons to do so. Here are just some of them.
- Community. Open source solutions geared toward the enterprise often have thriving communities around them, bound by a common drive to support and improve a solution that both the enterprise and the community benefit from (and believe in). The global communities united around improving these solutions introduce new concepts and capabilities faster, better, and more effectively than internal teams working on proprietary solutions.
- The power of the crowd. Many hands can deliver powerful outcomes. The collective power of a community of talented individuals working in concert delivers not only more ideas, but quicker development and troubleshooting when issues arise.
- Transparency. Open source code means just that—you get full visibility into the code base, as well as all discussions about how the community develops features and addresses bugs. In contrast, proprietary code produced in secrecy may come with unforeseen limitations and other unwelcome surprises. With open source, you're protected against lock-in risks and can see exactly what you're getting.
- Reliability. Because there are more eyes on it, the reliability of open source code tends to be superior as well. With a worldwide community supporting a code base—rather than one team within one company—code is developed on online forums and guided by experts. The output tends to be extremely robust, tried, and tested code. In fact, open source code now powers about 90% of the internet and is being rapidly adopted across major enterprises for this reason.
- Better security. As with reliability, open source software's code is often more secure because it is much more thoroughly reviewed and vetted by the community (and any issues that do arise tend to be patched more diligently). Long a point of hesitation for enterprise adoption of open source, concerns about security just aren't an issue today.
- Merit-based. With open source code, the sole motivation behind decision making around the direction of a solution is to make the best, most useful product possible. Corporations making proprietary code usually put the bottom line foremost, which is not always ideal. When choosing a technology integral to your business, it's best to ensure its agenda supports your own interests.
- Faster time to market. Because open source solutions are openly available and can be explored for free, it's often much faster to investigate options and get solutions off the ground.
- Cost effective. Although open source solutions should be thought of as more than just free software, the fact that they require no licensing fees remains a decisive advantage when looking at the total cost of deploying a solution.
- Freedom from lock-in. Proprietary software for core infrastructure increases the risk of becoming locked in by the vendor or technology. If this happens, enterprises can be at the mercy of vendors' price increases and experience a lack of flexibility they can't easily and readily escape. Enterprises should be careful to use true open source solutions, rather than those from providers that repackage open source software to include proprietary hooks.
- Becoming the norm. The many large enterprises implementing open source solutions—and often making policies out of doing so—are bringing the strength of their resources to the communities that support open source solutions.
In addition to these advantages, open source software has the long-term viability to outlast proprietary developers that come and go. And, thanks to supportive communities that are energized to continually introduce innovations, open source software remains at the forefront of advancing technology as a whole and meeting enterprises' needs as they evolve going forward.