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January 9, 2017
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Past, Present and Future of Open Source Software

This blog is written in collaboration with Oro Inc.

Developing innovative CRM and eCommerce products as an open source has been Oro’s philosophy from day one. Success stories coming from the customers have shown that the open source software built up by a synergy of high profile professionals brings extra value to any business operating in a digital age.

Marello shares Oro’s open source philosophy. In this blog, we’d love to elaborate on the huge potential of open source software, briefly dive through its evolution stages, and highlight its benefits.

In Open Source We Trust

There’s no need to introduce open source as a newborn technology. If you are not already using such software for business or personal needs, you must have definitely heard of it. The names of Apache, Ubuntu, Linux, WordPress, or Mozilla Firefox will most likely ring a bell. Large companies and market share leaders like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have succeeded not least due to the open source-technology.

It looks like the open source is in the DNA of emerging technology markets. More and more businesses consider increasing their reliance on the open source software distribution model instead of adopting proprietary systems. As last year’s survey on the Global Business Technologies Software delivered, 41% of enterprise decision-makers have claimed that increasing use of open source was a high or critical priority for 2016.

Naturally, it took time before the public has accepted and approved of the open source principles. Let’s cast a glance into the past to learn about development milestones of the software with the open source code, once a newsmaker in the mainstream software industry.

Retrospective: How It All Began

The story begins in the 1950s when the enthusiastic computing experts from academic world and corporate researches collaboratively created and shared for free their software with its source code – just in tune with the general idea of knowledge exchange that was natural for the academic circles. Back then, computer vendors have been raising revenue basically through selling hardware.

Over time, as the software industry has progressed, operating systems evolved into more complex and sophisticated applications. Eventually, software development morphed into a business followed by inflated product costs. A vast majority of hardware vendors began to sell bundled software products as an integral part of their hardware offerings.

In the late 1970s – early 1980s, the first software licenses appeared. That’s when software products became protected by copyrights and trademarks, and, little wonder, first cases of software piracy.

In 1983,  Richard Stallman initiated the GNU Project to create an operating system with its source code available on an unrestricted basis. The Free Software Foundation was established. This period is marked by the uprise of the first companies producing free software as their main business.

In 1991, the Linux kernel was released as a freely adjustable source code to complement the GNU project and finally complete the first free software operating system. In the late 1990s, Linux sparked interest of diverse businesses and government organizations. A lot of website-based start-ups were established back then which drove up demand for free web servers, in the first line the Apache HTTP Server. Gradually, Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP stack became as claimed as pricier proprietary solutions.

Over the past decades, the open source routines have essentially altered the way software is being produced and increased the number of open source product users.

Open Source Today

Nowadays even prominent proprietary vendors such as Microsoft, EMC, Cisco and IBM turn to open source ideas as they wrap their tools around the open source technology. As for the growing businesses that still refine their enterprise strategies, these consider implementing the open source technology to boost up own scale and adjust infrastructures to the competitive environment.

According to the key findings from the 2016 Future of Open Source Survey, the open source is a basis for building up a vast majority of applications, operating systems, cloud computing, and databases. This code distribution model has transformed the concept of software delivery. 90% of the polled cite the open source technology as a key to innovation and agile development processes within their business environments followed by faster builds, less time required to market, and a much better interoperability. Further 65% of the surveyed hope to skyrocket business development with the open source as a part of their growth plans.

Open Source Growth

Statistics data may look impressive, however, it doesn’t explicitly relate to your specific business, does it?

What would be the tangible benefits of using the open source software by your enterprise?

It was a commonplace belief a while ago that the open source software is a financial way out for the companies under  constrained budgets that can’t afford expensive proprietary systems. Today, as many organizations including government units tend to embrace open source applications, the price alone is definitely not the main choice criteria.

Here are the most compelling reasons why companies operating in ultra-competitive markets adopt open source solutions:

Overall quality

Community-driven creation of a software with an open source code, meaning collaborative nature of product development, provides a solid ground for innovations, competitive features deployment, and functionality enhancements.

Because the source code is available and thus transparent, it’s easier to detect and fix bugs than in the closed-source solutions. Should this be required, the users can even revise the code for improvement themselves.

Customization and business flexibility

Business-adding value of adopting an open source product is the ability to tailor its architecture to the company’s needs that might be changing over time. Organizations are free to make custom modifications to the open source software according to their  very own specific objectives. With the proprietary systems, the users have to deal with the provided functionality and adapt themselves instead.

No vendor lock-in

The companies using the open source software don’t have to stay committed to certain technologies or rely on a vendor. That’s not the case for the users running a proprietary stack who hugely depend on vendor requirements and must stay with particular service providers only, thus limiting their possibilities by the features and products the software provider has developed. Open source software offers greater freedom to purchase products from other manufacturers, avoiding lock-in, as they are highly interoperabilу and flexible. So rather than having to squeeze your needs into the proprietary software capabilities you can easily modify and shape the open source solution to fit your specific demands.

Long-term interoperability

Open source software better complies with the open standards and principles of interoperability (i.e. the ability of newly developed products to coexist and integrate with third-party applications or systems already available or with those that will appear in the future) than its proprietary counterpart does. If interoperability is critical for your company and you seek independence from the proprietary data formats, consider adopting an open source software within your business environment.

Total costs

Speaking from the business perspective, initial purchase expenses are less important than product’s total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO is an actual price you’ll have to pay for using a solution while forecasting all possible future investments into a product may not always be possible at the stage of acquiring. With the open source software you get a transparent view on your spend: you may either download a free basic software instance or pay moderate fee for the license subscription, with no further hidden costs or extra charges for upgrades, updates, software management & maintenance.

Adopting a credible open source software alone is not a key to the business success but a solid prerequisite of it. Weigh all the benefits open source technology has to offer and try them yourself.

A Glimpse Into the Future: Cloud Is the Prospect

The future of open source delivery model is promising. One of the development trajectories involves an emerging cloud computing.
The cloud services, e.g. from Amazon or Google are built predominantly with the open source technologies in mind. They provide solutions to data management or big data applications based on open source and offer platform as a service (PaaS) application development and deployment, while cloud itself became a significant channel promoting open source projects.

The open source seems to be a real trendsetter for the whole technology industry field, from operating systems to virtualized environments. Source code openness nowadays is virtually new quality criteria while providing an open environment becomes an infrastructure standard for the cloud computing.

The same way it happens with the “traditional” open source software, the open source cloud infrastructure is being built by contributors to its code as an ecosystem ready for flexible implementation, scalability, and alignment with other systems. Open-source concept is a reliable ally for cloud computing and their powerful fusion will result in a new generation of business value-adding solutions.

In Conclusion

The software with an open code is a crowd-sourced product affording ample of benefits for the businesses that use it. The common reasons why the companies prefer open source solutions over proprietary alternatives are their total cost of ownership, high quality and competitive features, full customizability, freedom from vendor lock-in, and accountability. Open source technology provides viability extending far into the future as your software can adjust to the needs of your scaling business.

The number of companies that recognize the necessity and benefits of adopting an open source digital experience software will most likely keep growing. This happens for a reason: modern enterprises tend to take advantage of the open source software potential to succeed in their digital transformation efforts.

We at Oro Inc., and Marello believe that both open source and cloud computing embody the best of what the next decades hold since they are the marriage of the most flexible, innovative technologies that allow us building our future-proof solutions.

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