Data Driven Society

The open source: answer to perfection


Open source codes are enabling individuals to contribute to the system and improve it in ways, which would otherwise be impossible to predict. Due to its success with patches, open source software is increasingly being seen as the natural way to move forward by some of the biggest players in the industry. The operational model of open source is the future of digital development, improving the virtual world and digital businesses which are already seen embedded in every possible sector.

No more a rarity:
the new normal

Open source refers to any piece of software that can be designed and altered by the public as its designs and codes are openly accessible. The ability to alter makes it possible for coders to find an alternate, more efficient ways to lodge processes. Similarly, the coders can find loopholes that the original author missed and patch them up, making the software more secure. Paul Santinelli, General Partner of North Bridge, says that ‘open source (is) unequivocally the engine of innovation; whether that’s powering technology like operating system, cloud, Big Data or IoT, or powering a new generation of open source companies delivering compelling solutions to the market.'

Open source infographic

Today, the open source platform is an essential component of the coding ecosystem, used by almost all companies. The results of the 2016 ‘Future of Open Source Survey’ conducted by Black Duck and Northbridge revealed the spread of its usage. The survey questioned 1313 IT experts and high management personnel across 64 countries and found 97% respondents using open source. Some companies have even been working on their own codes and releasing them to the public to improve them. For example, Google is responsible for MapReduce, AngularJS and then Kubernetes. Facebook was behind Cassandra and React. Linux is behind Red Hat and Amazon is following the same architecture with its web services. However, this is not limited to technological firms alone. Walmart, for example, has made its Electrode application platform open source allowing other users to use the codes to add functionality to their websites. The Electrode was constructed by Walmart when it was migrating to React and Node.js to enable a smoother and more efficient working of Other companies like Capital One and Goldman Sachs divert a significant part of their resources to customize open source software, using them to develop better services for their customers.

Open sourcing:
doing away with the monopoly

The application of open source becomes innovative with time. For example, the open source ecosystem existing today is not limited to setting up websites alone. On the contrary, open source alternatives are increasingly competing against established commercial inventions. For example, Mycroft has released an open source voice assistant that has the potential to challenge leading players in the market if individual coders devote time and energy to it. The open source voice assistant might not be as sharp, witty or fast as the leading competitors but its open source design offers the individual coders many opportunities to deal with the lags, eventually finding solutions that the competitors failed to think about. Moreover, the open source platform plays into the philosophy of the company’s CEO, Joshua Montgomery who insists that competition and open access are essential parts of the future tech business. He firmly believes that ‘companies need not to be held hostage to giant tech companies when they deploy these technologies.' Making the company’s software open source is his way of ensuring competition.

Magento is another example of a company seeking improvement by making its software open source. An e-commerce platform, the company has made its software open source allowing coders to alter codes and come up with better versions. However, the process of improving is more coordinated. The company boasts a wide array of technical experts already part of its ecosystem who coordinate with the coders as both try different solutions and improvements. Moreover, with the input of the public coders, the company hopes to build software that integrates solutions to the actual issues of their customers. Instead of imposing a set of systems, the company plans to let the public decide what they need from them.

These two examples offer insight that companies believe that software will improve into their best forms after going through the scrutiny of the common user. However, as a step further, these two applications of open-source software seek to challenge well-grounded market leaders. The fact that these market leaders themselves have dug their feet deep into source code proves that they understand the future is ‘open source code’ and if they don’t reinvent themselves and become part of the tide, they will lose their dominance as cheaper, improved and more personal software like Mycroft gain momentum.

Moving forward must
come with more organization

According to ’Future of open source’ study conducted by North Bridge and Black Duck, there are clear issues in the way companies are handling open source. As per the answers, 50% of the surveyed companies had no formal policies for choosing open source codes. There can be several problems due to this. For example, companies can fail to timely identify open sources and hence reproduce and repeat codes. Similarly, they can divert their resources on a particular code eventually realizing that someone else was one step further to them already. The companies also need to address the lack of policy in case the codes fall short of expected results. All of this was warned in the following results of the survey: 47% companies had no formal process to track open codes, and 1/3rd of the companies had no process for ‘for identifying, tracking or remediating known open source vulnerabilities.'

the ultimate infrastructure

Kubernetes, an open-source system that manages containerized applications, is an example of innersourcing and is leading the way in open source sharing. Innersourcing implies working collaboratively, which avoids duplication of codes and priority inversion. With kubernates, giants like Microsoft, IBM, and Redhead have joined forces with Google to form an open source software that can manage computing workloads across thousands of computer servers instead of solely cloud based presence. As shown by the efficiency of Google apps like Gmail, search, and maps, this form of computing is a lot smoother and faster than its counterparts. By pushing the process into local servers, the companies believe they can develop improved software capabilities. Moreover, as the software will remain open source, it will also be accessible to other companies and businesses. The intuitive will also allow the public to rent out their computing power which will be used by these companies for processing. According to Aparna Sinha, product management team lead at Google, kubernetes can ‘run multi types of workloads in one cluster’ making the process a lot more stable than conventional means. The tool has gained many fans across the coding industry and is expected to garner strong competition in the future amongst third parties who would compete for the right to manage the deployments and workloads. Moreover, the kubernetes infrastructure also largely reduces IT infrastructure costs to the companies.

Insight Box

Although open source platform is not something entirely new, however, the innovations and trends from market leaders offer much insight into the future. For one, there is an increased insistence in innersourcing of skills even amongst competitors. More importantly, the innovation in finding solutions and improvements in the open source codes are bringing new software to the market with solutions that were not catered to before.

#open source #digital infrastructure #kubernets #google #innovation #future trends

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