Default to Opensource

Blah blah blah blah

Zohaib Khan

4 minute read

The Ubers, AirBnbs, Facebooks and Ali-Babas of today have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that technology will disrupt the untouchable business models of yesterday and today. So it is no surprise that forward looking CxOs now realize that the disruption will come to their line of business.

In my line of work, I get to see how companies are investing in technology. A lot of it is now driving the “reinvent the business” or “disrupt before getting disrupted” strategies. But the path to figure out the best technology strategy and roadmap is a daunting one. Take cloud adoption for example. Not only there are too many choices out there, which makes it extremely difficult to filter between signal and noise, but there is the fear of lock-in which prevents the development teams to experiment without fear and run production workloads before committing to a set of stack wholesale. It does not surprise me then, that most of the business and technology leadership within enterprises, is looking up to Open Source model of innovation, trying to replicate its success in-house of delivering at scale and learn from the startups that embrace the Open Source culture.

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date = "2014-09-28"
title = "creating a new theme"

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date = "2014-09-28"
title = "creating a new theme"

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I do, however, get surprised though to see how prevalent the misconceptions associated with Open Source software still are. Let me go through some of them real quick here:

1 Open Source Software is something geeks write in their spare time

Paul Miller from Forrester [1] debunks the myth that Open Source is mainly written for and by geeks only. In fact he argues that Open Source has escaped the Bedroom and entered your Boardroom. Many companies that started early on the path of disruption have a serious commitment to Open Source. You might have already used frameworks from Netflix, Facebook or Gilt without realizing.

2 Being Open Source is contrary to being secure

A CTO once admitted to me that he does not understand how opening the source code makes it more secure, he thought it should be the opposite. I wasn’t surprised to hear that all, but I did realize that a large number of key decision makers still are unaware of the fact that having more eyes on the source code makes for faster bug and security detection and fixes than most proprietary stacks. And I’m not just saying that because I work for Red Hat, the largest Open Source company. NSA has open sourced SELinux [2] after they created it, because they realized the power of Open Source and its resiliency to detect and fix threats quickly.

In fact, Open Source now leads the way in the time it takes to patch security vulnerabilities after they surface. The 2015 Future of Open Source Survey [3], published by Blackduck software and North Bridge concludes that:

  • 46% companies give Open Source first consideration among security technologies and
  • 55% respondents believe Open Source delivers superior security.

3 Innovation comes mainly from big box vendors

This is probably true for the companies that mainly rely on COTS and turnkey software for their IT needs, but even then most proprietary software incorporates a good amount of open source components under the hood. Would it surprise you if I tell you that most web servers provided by major vendors is Apache HTTPD under the hood?

For large majority of companies today, use of technology is not just to streamline their business but also to create and maintain a competitive advantage. So the use of technology is increasingly driving new business models and revenue streams that were not imagined or possible until a few years ago. Open Source now makes the most of ThoughtWorks Tech Radar [4], something that speaks volumes to the quality and scale of innovation happening there. In fact, I would say that tables have turned. Who would have thought Microsoft [5][6] will sponsor and venture into Open Source and consider it critical to their strategy moving forward.

I haven’t even mentioned the benefits of using and incorporating Open Source to attract and retain talent [7].