Most businesses today are looking at ways to further improve IT efficiency, to provide scalability, flexibility and to lower overall costs. As a result, I believe Open Source Software (OSS) and what it offers has never been more relevant to helping address these challenges. OSS continues to grow in prevalence and relevance, millions of mobile devices rely on the technology in one way or another without us even realising it. From standard Operating Systems (OS) to virtualization, from middleware technology to applications, the number of systems and devices using this technology continues to increase substantially. Consequently, it’s vital the channel embraces and understands OSS to best provide choice for customers.
So, what is open source?
OSS is how all software was originally developed. Software applications are built from source code but OSS generally refers to software for which the source code is freely available to the public for personal use. OSS source code can be shared with all developers for modifications, which enables programmers to build and maintain OSS technology for a faster turnaround on making improvements, increased flexibility and some may even argue: better security.
What are the key benefits?
OSS available on the market today is a collaborative, public offering which is highly interoperable with existing systems, making deployment much simpler and more cost effective. OSS offers the opportunity to increase the quality, integration and pace of software throughout an entire organisation, lowering costs and improving the flexibility of IT infrastructure.
No vendor lock-in
- As the source code is available to all, users aren’t locked into specific vendors, developers or costly software upgrade cycles. Developed through Open Standards, OSS gives freedom of choice, more control to switch vendors and makes upgrading or scaling up/down costs much lower.
Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
- This is a major challenge most of today’s organisations. With no software licensing fees OSS provides a clear advantage over proprietary software as it requires less hardware power to deliver the same tasks as conventional server solutions. Companies can also stay in control of the software due to it adaptable nature, whilst keeping costs down due to this software’s low maintenance requirements.
Flexibility over proprietary systems
- Of paramount importance in the IT infrastructure arena, OSS allows for easier migration to new hardware and offers a higher level of customisation through access to the source code.
- OSS is hardware independent – a feature that’s built in at design level, making OSS very scalable. This enables IT managers to meet their IT business needs for today and tomorrow, reducing overheads and helping to meet budgets.
- With the influx of private, personal and sensitive data currently being handled by organisations, security is now more important than ever before. OSS by its very nature is ‘open to all’ and since this growing ‘community’ of users regularly scan code for errors, potential security exposures are spotted early and bugs are fixed rapidly, making OSS inherently more secure.
What does this have to do with the channel?
To take advantage of the growing number of opportunities available to the channel, thanks to open source, a confident knowledge of the technology is essential. Organisations require specific expertise and skills to ensure that open source solutions are successfully implemented to make the most of what they have to offer, such as the financial gain.
By adopting an open source strategy, companies can achieve considerable cost savings in terms of reduced upfront capital investment and ongoing maintenance as the ‘open’ aspect of OSS gives users the opportunity to adjust their IT environments with ease as a response to ever changing business requirements.
Open source technology enables partners to offer high quality, highly available best-of-breed solutions to customers, thus presenting the best option for maximising the efficiency, security and cost effectiveness of computing and cloud enterprises.