Although the term “Open Source” is understood by some technicians, the corporate world failed to understand the ramifications of this model and why it matters to them. For the most part, it’s a “cheaper” way to get software. However, the fact it’s this model matters more today than ever.
Here are 4 basic facts that everyone working in big corporations should be aware if they should decide to pick an Open Source Project (as opposed to a Closed technology).
Before dive into the facts, one important thing is worth mention:
Open Source is all about the community. “And who is the community (you might wonder) ?” The answer: Everyone who are interested in using a particular project: Your customer, your friends, your patients, your school paws. This large population is why this model is disrupting the entire industry.
1. Open Source communities can offer skill people
If there is an Open Source Project, you can be sure there is an Open Source Community around it. This fact alone is incredible important, just because you’ll find a bunch of skilled people for your company to hire it.
I don’t have to tell you how important this is for the success of your organization. Find the right people for the right job (in our case, for the right technology) matters a lot. If you decided to go with closed technologies (and especially if the technology is not a very popular one like Oracle Database, VMWare Virtual Images, Microsoft Operating System) then you will struggle to find skilled people on the market.
2. You can choose a company to support an Open Source Project.
If the Software is wide available for download, then potentially anyone capable of knowing the project pretty well can provide you with all the necessary help you might need. This means you’re free to pick whoever offers the best service to you as a whole such as Software Patch, Support, Documentation, Examples, Training, Mentoring, Consulting and etc. You’re no longer tied to a single vendor and that means leverage during negotiation because there is competition out there.
When you choose a closed technology, it means you have no choice but to pick services from the same vendor, no matter what kind of service they offer.
3. Code is *NOT* the only way to contribute to a Open Source Project.
Most people think that contribution for Open Source is solely based on Code. Wrong !!!! There are several ways that someone (or even organizations) could contribute to an Open Source project. Here are a few:
a.Talk about it
You can contribute just by talking: Talking to your friends about it, talking to your customers, talking in conferences and events, twitter it, facebook it or even, write a blog like this one.
You can write a few lines (or even a full page if you wish) about this project, which it’s going to be share with the whole World
c. Questions & Answers (Q&A)
You can help the community by providing valuable information to newcomers and help the spread of the Project to large audience.
d. Using it
I guess one of the best contributions that someone could give it’s just by using it. This gives enough idea if the Open Source project really works. If it doesn’t, then you can tell the community, which in turn it will fix it (and all that, thanks to you).
The more you contribute the more people start to get involved which in turn, the better the Open Source project gets and whole thing will be growing organically like a tree. Those contributions benefits everyone involved in a win-win scenario.
Organizations benefits from every kind of those “contributions” are valuable knowledge about the Open Source Project: The roadmap, the desires of the community, the technical discussions and etc. That knowledge is spread all over your organization, which in turn helps you to better decide on how to use this technology as a whole.
From an employee perspective, this contribution is a powerful information that they can attach to their resumes and promote their skills based on Open Source Projects, which demonstrates a incredible knowledge towards the technology (If you’re doubt if he is *really* involved, just ask anyone from the community of that Project).
From an organization perspective, having your employees being involved into a specific Open Source project means promoting the reputation and branding their company inside the community. NetFlix is one of the good example (by not being a Software Company) open source some of their projects and expects that a community will be created around it. This will helping them feed with potential skilled people and promoting their brand at the same time.
4. Cloud *IS* Open Source
The rise of the Cloud is mostly due the nature of Open Source Projects: Because those technologies are open, it’s incredible easy to combine each of them to deliver some kind of a solution. Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, Über are just a new disruptors in the block made of several Open Source Projects connected. Also Open Source enabled those companies because of the large number of contributions (of all kind) and offered them skilled people to build and maintain their software. If they decided to do with closed source (not only it would cost considerable more) but also it would take years for one of those companies to take off.
Even closed source software companies are considering investing in Open Source projects if they want to jump into the Cloud ecosystem.