In my recent blog posts, I have been encouraging the usage of open source by those who have not been exposed to the value of open source, or those who want to try but have not taken the leap. Today, I want to talk to those of you out there who have implemented open source, and encourage you to get a wider implementation in your enterprise. Below are the five reasons I think enterprises should start standardizing on more open source than they have in the past.
1) Maturity of the Solution - Most of the large open source software (OSS) projects have been around for 15 to 20 years. The current versions are very stable and we only have to look at the current versions of a couple to understand how they have changed. In the early days, these projects had to fight not only the infancy of their own solution, they also had to adapt to the rapid changes in the environments around them. Keep in mind that the Internet had just arrived to Main Street, and the explosion of web servers was soon to follow. The growth of the Internet required that these projects adapt quickly to rapid deployment and bandwidth explosion. This explosion also required major adjustments to their own development efforts. When many of the major OSS projects started, they often didn’t align to the technical standards that were out at the time due to resource restrictions. Plus, development in open source is very focused on developing specific functionality, and not a whole array of features; therefore, its goal is not to develop to the entire standard. Today, the Internet is not the unknown quantity it once was, and these projects have matured with it. Open source projects have developed their own standards, such as the Java EE standard. These standards have helped developers simplify how they write code because they write to the current standard, as opposed to creating their own standards, or trying to develop to every conceivable scenario imaginable.
2) Knowledge of the Developers - Most every developer has been exposed by now to open source, or at least has an understanding of the community vision of how these amazing communities have thrived. Many developers even have written their own applications. The fact that developers can now develop to these well-established standards has taken the guesswork out of which direction they should take with the application. These standards have created a "convention" over "configuration" environment where a majority of the variables has been removed, and it helps them develop a tighter, well-engineered solution.
3) Multiple Vendors from which to Choose - In the early days of OSS, you might have been on your own, or limited to just one vendor. Today, most areas of open source that have enterprise penetration i.e., support, governance and professional services, have many vendors to choose from. There will be plenty of choice when you research that next support vendor. Likewise, you won’t have to rely on just one vendor for scanning anymore. In a market where there is plenty of choice, the main differentiator will be the service that you receive from that vendor. You can expect excellent service, responsive support, and vendors who will go above and beyond because the competition for market share is getting very competitive. I might go as far to say that your next decision on an open source vendor will not come down to functionality or price. Your next selection of a vendor might come down to service and responsiveness to your needs. The main differentiator could be how many extra customer service touch points they have implemented throughout the process and after the sale. There may be things like updates, portals, and reviews that the vendor contributes to the deal to make sure you are highly satisfied with your purchase.
4) Standardization of Features - In a mature market there might be different ways a vendor serves up the platform, such as SaaS vs. client/server, but the standard or common feature set will be pretty much the same across all vendors. All of the solutions have evolved to the point that there isn’t a huge variation in the features or results, rather just a differentiation in how efficiently results are delivered.
5) Price - The real benefactor of the maturity in the market is the end-user enterprise. Prices are very competitive, as vendors have entered the field, to offer solutions to a growing market. As the market matures, vendors will need to create value with price, when little product differentiation can be gained. The market has become very price sensitive, and vendors are all working hard to earn your business. OSS provides an even greater value today than some non-OSS options.
There it is. Five great reasons why you should be using open source more now than ever. If your last development projects didn’t involve open source, perhaps you should take a fresh look at the market and see how mature we have become.