10 reasons why CIOs should consider open source software

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A recent survey shows 78 percent of companies run part or all of their operations on open source software. Indeed, open source continues to gain market traction as more companies adopt open technology to speed innovation, disrupt industries and improve overall productivity.

Those who remain hesitant about adopting open source are in danger of being left behind. Because open source architecture lends itself to more frequent updates, and because of the openness, open source provides the freedom to innovate and mature in the way that enterprises need. Here are 10 top reasons why CIOs should choose open source software:

#1. Security

In light of recent revelations about NSA spying on internet traffic through firmware modification and BIOS exploits, organizations can remain immune to this type of intrusive monitoring by using open source where any code tampering would be quickly detected by the community. With open source, there are more professionals overseeing code integrity. The benefit is being able to maintain full control of a software stack as well as actively monitor for security vulnerabilities.

#2. Avoid vendor lock-in, risk of startups and consolidation

Open source leverages open standards, which helps prevent vendor lock-in. An organization is free to replace an open source component for another when something more innovative comes along. With open source, the risk of startup failure and/or consolidation is mitigated since the organization can build out its own expertise to support the software.

#3. Cutting-edge technology

Open source ecosystems have a broad community of end users and vendors. Governance for the project typically is not controlled by any one company. This means an organization can benefit from the latest in community engineering while avoiding the risk of relying on immature software.

#4. More support options

People often respond quickly to questions posted on IRC or on the forum of widely-used open source projects, but this is not the same thing as a guaranteed vendor response to a help desk ticket. In open source, enterprise-class support is available, either from the company leading the project or a separate third-party. By having more choices, organizations can negotiate for more flexible pricing.

#5. Broad community to source for employees

More universities around the globe are introducing open source into their curriculum. As open source becomes mainstream in the enterprise, there’s a larger pool of certified professionals for popular open source platforms like Linux, Hadoop, and OpenStack. Employers looking to hire for open source skill set can draw from a global labor pool and be able to fill positions at various salary ranges and experience levels.

#6. Cost benefits over proprietary software

Open source software provides upfront savings in software licensing and follow-on savings on maintenance and support. The total cost of ownership for open source is usually much lower than the proprietary equivalent because commercial vendors typically impose a premium on industrial testing and hardening of the open source software.

#7. Fewer legal agreements

It is far simpler to access the source code from repositories like Github or GitLab, all without having to sign onerous legal agreements. Access to trial software are often gated by legal agreements. But in open source, even small contributions can have a significant impact. As more people using the software helps to uncover any software issues, security vulnerabilities and ultimately leads to faster triaging and issue resolution.

#8. Broad support of operational tools and community of experts

With the adoption of popular open source projects, there’s no shortage of expertise around the globe and in any time zones to provide onboarding assistance. The more popular the project, the more operational expertise all around using the software and no shortage of third party operational tools for monitoring, log analytics, and configurations management.

#9. Easier to make in-house extensions

With open source projects, developers can easily ‘fork’ a program in which they take a copy of some already-written code, build upon it and/or treat it as an entirely separate project. They might rename it, and any changes made will only be reflected within that particular ‘branch.’ There are many reasons that developers may want to do this. The organization they work for may want to develop a customized version of mySQL for their own use but not want to share their customizations with the broader mySQL community.

#10. Deploy globally without country-specific restrictions

Some commercial software have license restrictions on certain countries and/or provide regional licenses where they impose limits on where their software can be deployed and receive support. There is no such restriction in open source. This could make it easier to do business with countries across the world, for example, China.

More than anything, open source software offers organizations the considerable freedom to adapt and evolve with technology that is best suited to them. The community around open source engineering fosters knowledge-sharing and the rewards are remarkable achievements in innovation in software development.

As CTO, Pino is responsible for Midokura’s technical innovation and evolution of its flagship technology MidoNet. He joined Midokura as a Software Engineer in 2010.

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