Over the last decade, open source software and its audience of end users have greatly matured. Once only used by a small subset of tech-savvy early adopters, the convenience, effectiveness and cost savings of open source solutions are now driving enterprise IT to explore more ways to take advantage of the power of open source in their daily business operations.
In today’s economy, enterprise IT has less to gain from developing and licensing software and more to gain from actively working with existing open source technology. However, the march toward open source still faces major obstacles before it becomes mainstream. In this slideshow, Travis Oliphant, CEO and founder of Continuum Analytics, outlines five challenges preventing enterprise IT from shifting to open source and tips for tackling them to keep the future of open source heading in the right direction. The road may be winding, but it will eventually lead companies to open source to help them innovate and as the way of the future.
Overcoming Open Source Adoption Challenges
Click through for five challenges preventing enterprise IT from shifting to open source and tips for tackling them to keep the future of open source heading in the right direction, as identified by Travis Oliphant, CEO and founder of Continuum Analytics.
Continuous Integration and Dev
Manage the move to continuous integration and development.
When working with open source software, continuous integration is a commonly advocated strategy to prevent the problem that coders often refer to as “integration hell”(errors that arise due to changes made to the source code repository after developers have already gotten the baseline code to develop). Not all enterprise IT firms have the strong continuous integration tools necessary to successfully interface with open source code. By prioritizing these tools in the enterprise, the shift to open source would be much more palatable.
Connecting Users and IT Managers
Bridge the disconnect between end users and IT managers.
Analysts and supervisors don’t see the full picture of how their most tech-savvy employees are utilizing open source technology on a day-to-day basis, making it easy for enterprise IT to miss key opportunities to work with the software that will provide the greatest value and spur innovation. To overcome this hurdle, companies should establish proactive “shadow IT” teams charged with ferreting out open source software that can be institutionalized and add value to the company. These teams can help bridge gaps in the understanding between employees and managers and capture new opportunities for bringing open source in-house to promote growth and development.
Existing Licensing Commitments
Manage existing licensing commitments and other ties to proprietary software.
Companies utilizing proprietary software usually have a strong existing relationship with a point person at that software company and often have multi-year licensing commitments to go along with that. Enterprise IT worries that the same may not always be true for open source, which gives pause to decision-makers who want to know what they can do in case problems arise. In reality, the perception of open source having poor support and service is no longer accurate. Many companies have started offering open source software with support and services. Open source is no longer the “wild, wild west” of software — it is now possible to find open source products that offer the benefits of malleability and freedom, while still providing the same benefits of tried and true enterprise SaaS.
Liability and Indemnification
Mitigate risks associated with liability and lack of indemnification.
The lack of understanding surrounding open source licensing issues and indemnification provides an additional risk when using open source. A proprietary vendor — owning full control of the copyright and code of its product — can provide complete indemnification. An open source vendor may have its hands tied, since there are multiple contributors as well as third-party modules and licenses involved. To solve this problem, open source providers have come up with creative licensing and indemnification solutions to appropriately mitigate the risks to their users and provide users with clear background information on these issues. Knowing the risks upfront can help enterprise IT assess and understand the impact on their businesses.
Overcoming concerns about software lock-in.
Before building a business model on open source, companies must make sure they can trust those technologies in the long term. Some open source companies are truly committed to the free and open model, while others simply use the term “open source” as a way to jump on the bandwagon and ultimately build dependence to sell more software. Organizations should look for companies whose founders have a long history in open source and whose senior leaders have prioritized the idea of building strong open source communities. These companies contribute to the thriving open source community, as well as incubate and launch new open source projects that meet the needs of the community.