Why you must use Open Source at your Enterprise

It’s November 1989 and Tim Berners Lee has just viewed the first ever web page on the system he invented. He has two choices - turn it into a proprietary system and sell it, or give it away as an open standard. Had he chosen the former we may not have the likes of Amazon, Netflix or iPhone to enhance our life. Fast Forward to today and Google have just ‘Open Sourced’ their latest compression algorithm that has the potential to increase the speed of the web by 20-25%, other projects ranging from entire ERP systems to distributed data stores created by Facebook, that now include the World’s biggest databases (Apple serving over 10PB and counting on 75,000 nodes) are also giving away their source code freely.

Still thinking if Open Source should be used in your organisation? Think again it should - well evaluated equally against other solutions as all good Enterprise Architecture (EA) should at least!

Working as an EA within a number of large enterprises Open Source software is often shied away from when running identification and selection phases of projects and for no apparent reasons. It’s likely many service delivery teams and developers are already using Open Source libraries/tools to deliver the services they provide so why should business projects be any different?

In short, as good EAs we should be encouraging the evaluation of Open Source software in our selection phases and ensuring our strategies/reference architectures/standards encourage the evaluation to see if they hold their own.

With full visibility of the source there is increased security due to peer review of code, the ability to easily extend and customise where needed and the safety that you’ll always be able to support a system as you’ll have the source code should a vendor disappear (unlike most closed source systems). Most Open Source solutions are supported by commercial vendors and offer the same SLAs/etc. as their closed source counterparts so it really should just come down to functional fit, cost and licensing (there are many different types of Open Source licenses).

Open Source solutions can have a dramatic improvement on quality and productivity so consider the options next time you get the chance and revisit your principles/standards/strategy to make sure you’re giving your organisation all the options.

Take a lead from Redbull - it’ll give you wings (they have an Open Source ERP)!

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