Impact of Open-Source Software (OSS) on Businesses and Enterprise Information Technology (EIT)
Today Open-Source Software is adopted by organizations all around the world either consciously or unconsciously. Open-Source Software has rightfully transformed the software ecosystem for change.
From start-ups to large corporations, businesses of all sizes have embraced open-source solutions to reduce costs, increase flexibility, and foster innovation.
Keeping in mind the growing enthusiasm of people regarding open-source software, we have decided to investigate its collective impact on businesses and enterprise IT.
Extending from increased collaboration and creativity to challenges in improving security and reliability, we will be discussing how this innovation is transforming the current business landscape.
So, whether you’re a business owner, an IT professional, or just someone interested in the latest technological trends, this blog is a great place to start learning about the impact of open-source software on a wider scale.
What is Open-Source Software?
According to the Open-source software’s official webpage:
“Open-source software refers to computer code distributed under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the right to freely access, modify, and distribute the software for any purpose.”
Basically, open-source software is a licensed computer code that is freely available to the public and can be modified, improved, and shared by anyone. In this type of software, the source code must be open for anyone to view, understand, and change as per their requirements. It is usually developed through community collaboration and maintained and updated on a volunteer basis.
You can think of it as a recipe for a delicious dish. Just like the recipe, the ingredients (source code) for Open-source software are available for everyone to see, change, and create their own version of the dish (software). Many people can collaborate and work together to improve and refine the original, making it better over time.
The idea behind open source is to enable contribution and collaboration among people so that the software can be developed and improved faster and more efficiently than an individual team.
Additionally, open-source software is free (mostly), making it accessible to those who may not have the resources to buy proprietary software.
Interesting facts about Open-Source Technology:
- According to estimates, 90% of present businesses and products are using at least one open-source component.
- The term “open-source” was first coined in 1998 by Christine Peterson, an American Software Executive and software pioneer.
- 70% of all software used in Asia/Pacific enterprises to drive digital innovation is OSS.
- The Open-Source industry has prestigious awards of its own just like the Oscars, the Bossie Awards.
- Many technologies and products are powered by open-source software like smartphones, servers, web browsers, and cloud computing.
- In 2021 Open-Source Services Market size was valued at USD 17.68 Billion and is expected to reach USD 71.05 Billion by 2030.
- Some of the most popular open-source software projects include Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
What makes Open-Source Software Special?
Open-source software is special because of the following reasons:
- Transparency: Open-source software code is available for everyone to see, inspect and modify. This means that everyone can verify that the software is safe and free from malicious code or vulnerabilities.
- Community: A passionate community of developers, users, and enthusiasts are always contributing their proficiency in improving the software.
- Collaboration: Since this software is developed through community collaboration, many software experts are able to contribute. This leads to faster and better-quality software.
- Innovation: Developers can build on existing code to create new tools and applications. This way there is always room for innovation and constant generation of new ideas.
- Freedom: Open source is free to use, modify and distribute, which means that software can be adapted to meet the specific needs of specific users or organizations.
Open-Source Initiative (OSI) and The Criteria to Qualify as Open-Source Software:
The Open-Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting and facilitating the use of open-source software. It was founded by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond in 1998.
The main purpose of OSI is to educate people about the benefits of open source and promote its usage across the board.
Open-source Definition (OSD):
A list of approved open-source licenses is maintained by the OSI known as the Open-Source Definition (OSD). The OSD specifies the criteria that a license must meet in order to be considered open-source, such as making the source code available and allowing the software to be reshared.
- Free Redistribution: The open-source software license will not require a royalty or other fee for the sale or distribution of software as a component of an aggregate software distribution that includes programs from multiple sources.
- Source Code: The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form.
- Derived Works: The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.
- Integrity of The Author’s Source Code: The license may restrict source code from being distributed in modified form, but must also explicitly permit the distribution of software built from modified source code.
- No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
- No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
- Distribution of License: The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
- License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
- License Must Not Restrict Other Software
- License Must Be Technology Neutral
How is Open-Source Software (OSS) Impacting Enterprise Information Technology (EIT) and Business Organizations?
Now that we are aware of all the important terminologies, let’s look at how OSS solutions are contributing to changing the Software ecosphere:
- Cost: Open-source software is often free to use, which saves organizations and businesses a lot of money on software expenses.
- Accessibility: Open-source software can be used by anyone, regardless of their financial resources. This helps level the playing field and makes technology accessible to a wider range of people.
- Innovation & Collaboration: Open-source software is typically developed collaboratively by a community of developers, which can lead to faster innovation and improved quality.
- Security & Reliability: Because the source code of open-source software is open and accessible to the public, it can be scrutinized by a large number of people for security vulnerabilities. This helps make open-source software more secure than proprietary software, where security issues may not be discovered or fixed as quickly.
- Customization: Open-source software can be easily modified to meet an organization’s or business’s specific needs. This allows greater customization and flexibility compared to proprietary software.
- Freedom: Open-source software gives users the freedom to use, study, modify, and distribute the software as they see fit. This freedom is important for many people and organizations who value control over their technology.
What are the advantages and challenges of utilizing Open-source software for your?
- Open-source is adaptable; developers can examine how the code works and freely modify dysfunctional or problematic aspects of the application to better meet their specific requirements.
- Open-source software is reliable and stable. The source code is public so users can depend on it for long-term projects since they know that the code’s developers wouldn’t simply discontinue.
- Open-source nurtures inventiveness; programmers can utilize pre-existing code to improve the software and come up with their own innovations.
- Built-in community modifies and improves the source code on a regular basis.
- It offers excellent learning opportunities for new programmers.
- Open-Source software provides enterprises with the ability to attract better talent. As most professional technologists enjoy creating their own projects while having the ability to interact with developers outside their enterprise.
- Due to setup challenges and a lack of user-friendly user interfaces, open-source software can be more challenging to use and adapt.
- Open source might have compatibility issues. As when proprietary hardware is programmed with OSS, special hardware drivers are needed which are only available from the hardware manufacturer.
- The costs of training users, importing data, and setting up required hardware can be unexpected with open source.
- Liability issues can arise when using open-source software in contrast to commercial software, which is completely controlled by the vendor. Open source rarely includes any warranty, liability, or infringement indemnity protection. As a result, the consumer of the OSS is responsible for adhering to legal obligations.
- Vulnerabilities are Public Knowledge; cybercriminals can identify and exploit vulnerabilities easily which are shared on databases like National Vulnerability Database (NVD) etc.
Is Open Source only useful to computer Programmers?
No, open-source software technology and an open-source mindset are not only beneficial for programmers but non-programmers, end-users, and organizations as well. Here’s how:
End-users: As open-source software is often free to use, it can provide end-users with powerful tools and applications that they might not have been able to afford otherwise.
Organizations: Open-source software can help organizations save money on licensing fees and development costs since it is often free and can be modified to meet specific needs. Moreover, open-source software can be personalized and integrated with existing systems, allowing for greater flexibility and control.
Non-programmers: This software can also benefit non-programmers by providing them with simple tools and applications that can help them complete tasks more quickly.
Open-source office suites, for example, such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice, provide users with powerful productivity tools that are both free and simple to use.
Where is Open-Source Technology being used?
Nearly every field has adopted some form of open-source software, here are some examples:
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
- Computer simulation
- Data mining
- Data visualization components
- Enterprise search engines
- Web browsers
- Bug trackers
- Game engines
- Healthcare software
The Future is Open Source:
Adoption of open-source software at the enterprise level has grown over the last decade, as more businesses discover the significant advantages open-source solutions have over their proprietary counterparts.
In addition to these benefits, the supportive communities always eager to introduce new innovations provide open-source software the viability to outlast the come and go of conventional software.
Therefore, as a whole open-source software remains at the fore front of advancing technology, meeting catering to the enterprise’s needs as they evolve.
In the end we would like to quote Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux and Git:
“I often compare open source to science. Science took this whole notion of developing ideas in the open and improving on other peoples’ ideas. It made science what it is today and made the incredible advances that we have had possible.”