Open Source

You never used to get fired for using “Big Branded Tech”

In the battle between open source and proprietary software, open source comes out on top. People often think of open source software as the generic alternative to the ‘real deal’ big branded software that is owned by an individual or company. However, this is simply not the case.

Did you know?

  • The cloud is built on open source.
  • Google and Facebook use Linux to run their servers.
  • Microsoft bought GitHub.
  • More than one of South Africa’s big banks has an open source first policy.

Why open source?

  • It’s safe: Contrary to popular belief, open source is more secure than other software. It allows for accountability as the software is constantly being evaluated for threats to its security. For every person tracking open source code for criminal intent, there is a whole team tracking that same code to protect it from such threats.
  • It’s flexible: Open source allows you to develop the direction in which a project takes. In addition, it allows you to reflect business process changes in your code.
  • It’s innovative: Open source communities are able to innovate at a faster pace when compared to monopolistic communities. The volume of acquisitions in the open source space over the last few months have shown these trends:
  • IBM acquired Red Hat
  • VMware acquired Heptio
  • EQT acquired Suse and;
  • F5 acquired NGINX

This shows that open source is more than just a viable model for software companies – it’s a driver of innovation, digital transformation, and cloud-native computing.

  • It encourages support through communities: Support networks from open source software typically arise out of communities that have evolved naturally to provide support and technical assistance to one another. As code is adopted by enterprises, these communities formalise themselves and begin to provide paid services. Open source specialists provide the layer of trust between enterprises and open source that allows them to confidently navigate the open source landscape and get the most out of available technologies.
  • It’s empowering: In 2002 and 2003, the South African Cabinet adopted policy recommendations from the Government IT Officer’s Council pertaining to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). As a result, the SA Government implemented an open source first policy (unless proprietary software proves to be demonstrably superior) that encourages the use of open standards within South Africa.
  • It’s less risky: If you are a company from an emerging market using proprietary software from a monopolistic multinational, which is often the case for most South African businesses, you do not have enough autonomy to sway them if they’re considering altering their licensing terms, cost model, or development strategy.

Getting started:

Getting the most out of open source is a journey that requires understanding, buy-in and support from the entire business. The good news is that open source suits a hybrid approach, and adopting it doesn’t require an all-or-nothing attitude. The first step is speaking to a purely open source company who can identify the most effective route for quick wins and long-term efficiency. It’s a step that’s worth taking.

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