Making decisions on changes to IT infrastructure can be daunting. Solutions must meet an organisation’s present needs, but also have scope for future needs to be met. Making the wrong choices may hinder growth, resulting in further costly refactoring.
This is one reason why enterprise open source software has become increasingly popular in the past decade.
Open source software (where source code is legally available, meaning end-users can remodel the code) shows every sign of being technology which will endure. MIT’s Technology Review recently demonstrated how key open-source software has become by pointing out that ‘96% of all code bases’ (program or system source code files) incorporate open source software.’
The demand for innovation is also fuelling open source’s use in enterprise technology. Red Hat’s 2022 State of OpenSource report showed 80% of enterprises were ‘planning to increase their use of enterprise open source’ to increase their use of emerging technologies, such as ‘artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).’
The entrenchment of open source today and its compatibility with emerging technologies offers reassurance that open source is a wise investment for the future.
Here are four additional reasons why open source is cost effective and prepares organisations for the future by increasing business agility.
Enterprise open source solutions tend to be less expensive
Open source code is available for free. However, as transforming the code into executable software requires a high-level of expertise which organisations often lack, many organisations prefer to pay an open source provider.
Choosing to obtain open source through a vendor, (such as Red Hat, the world’s largest enterprise open source provider) enables organisations to obtain open source code that is already developed for specific purposes (such as cloud infrastructure, agile integration, application development, automation) and is reliable enough to be deployed in a production environment.
Although companies choosing production-ready open source have to pay by subscription, open source solutions still tend to offer better value than proprietary software (which is owned and distributed under licence) in terms of its cost to capability ratio.
One reason for this is that building costs for projects using licensed commercial software often require a high initial outlay. In contrast, open source projects require less spend up front, allowing organisations to get started quickly and scale.
The total cost of ownership of open source software also tends to be less. For example, according to the State of Enterprise Open Source report, Linux was adopted by many companies mainly because it was a less expensive alternative to proprietary UNIX and networking-related applications.
Plus, the lower price of open source doesn’t mean organisations must compromise in capabilities or quality. Red Hat open source users reported it offered better security (32% of users) and was of higher quality (32%) than proprietary software.
Open source helps avoid vendor lock-in
According to the State of Open Source report, the use of proprietary software is expected to decline from 45% to 37% over the next two years.
One reason for this is that organisations can find themselves locked-in to using software that no longer meets their needs.
For instance, if a business finds proprietary software too expensive, unreliable or if employees struggle to use it, the expense or complexity involved in switching to another vendor make it very difficult to change.
In contrast, the use of enterprise open source software is expected to grow from 29% to 34% in the next two years.
Unlike proprietary software, open source vendors allow switching or even dropping commercial support whilst allowing customers to continue using the open source code. This gives customers much greater flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.
Enterprise open source offers greater flexibility
Having the agility to quickly adapt to changes in business is key to remaining competitive, particularly as technology is undergoing rapid advancement.
The State of OpenSource report found that 79% of enterprise open source users choose it as it ‘provides the flexibility to customise solutions to meet our company’s needs’ and more than 75% agreed open source ‘ensures their organisation has access to the latest innovations’.
Open source enables IT leaders to provide technological agility through offering a variety of ways to approach challenges. In comparison to proprietary software, open source offers unlimited capabilities as there are no limits to the services you can use or combine in your workflow. Also, enterprises with open source expertise can develop and customise software themselves to meet changing business needs and keep up with innovation.
Enterprise open source software also gives organisations with legacy systems the flexibility to modernise gradually by implementing open source whilst continuing to use existing systems and tools.
Also, as open source offers the possibility of starting small and scaling up or down this provides more flexibility in terms of responding to demand and economic conditions.
Open source offers wider support options
A recent article in CIO magazine summed up the downsides of support for proprietary software:
‘If you buy a commercial software package…(and) you don’t like what’s offered, that’s just too bad…’ whereas support for open source is ‘widely available’ and not being locked in makes support better value as ‘support suppliers compete on quality and price.’
In addition, most enterprise open source software also provides access to large open source user communities. These not only provide quick solutions to problems but ideas on how to enhance open source software to deliver better results.
To sum up, enterprise open source solutions offer potential cost savings and more financial flexibility to approach modernisation.
Also, open source often offers better value than proprietary software as open source users report needing to make no compromises on quality and security.
Finally, as open source has firmly established itself and supports the use of emerging technology, this should reassure those making tough decisions on enterprise technology that open source is a sound investment for the future.
Read our Case Study to find out how SABREX used Red Hat Open Shift to modernise a large bank’s platforms, enabling the bank to compete by providing flexibility and agility over the way they operate.
More than 90% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Red Hat for enterprise open source. Find out more on our Red Hat product pages.
Article by C. James