Why open source has been a tremendous accelerator for Monsanto

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Our IT organization is continuing to evolve as we engage more in open source. Whether it be what we use for distributed processing, for databases, or to accelerate our compute power or data visualization, we continue to expand the number of open technologies we explore. It has become a very important area for us, and drives the need for many different open technologies that we want to test and deploy.

For example, we work in some of the many open source graph databases. Open databases let us look at lineages that we can’t do with traditional relational databases, or in other environments. Being able to leverage and apply these tools against unique business problems has had an impact on accelerating our decision-making and our value proposition for our customers. Each open technology has its own niche and fit for us, and we’re combining these technologies with core technologies we already have in the environment, whether it be Teradata or SAP, to create a hybrid approach for the business.

As we look at cost, I simply reason that if I can do things more cheaply and sustainably in an open source environment, then we should absolutely do that. I’m getting the same or greater value for innovative tools that continue to evolve. If you work with companies that are actually providing packaged services around that, you also have maturity and stability and scalability in the environment that you can count on.

There is a learning curve with open source, of course, but we are not turning back. Open source has been a tremendous accelerator for us. We just couldn’t do it in the traditional way, and the cost at times could be prohibitive. So we’ve seen a huge amount of value. In addition, we’re actually helping to shape the future for these technology companies as well, because our input is making their products better.

Open source is a two-way win. You have to invest in the open source community, but the value you get back for doing that is too great not to pursue this strategy.

Jim Swanson is a global business and technology leader and currently Chief Information Officer of Johnson & Johnson, the world’s premier healthcare company. Based at the company headquarters in New Jersey, Jim is responsible for amplifying Johnson & Johnson’s business impact and shaping its direction through the strategic use of technology.

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