Open source software (OSS) has a number of advantages over license-restricted proprietary code. Perhaps the most appealing advantage is that open source software allows technology to develop at an exponentially faster rate than software limited by patent protection. By allowing users to study, change and distribute the source code, the evolution of the software moves at a rate that non-distribution/modifications protected software will never be able to achieve.
The number of people improving OSS is limited only by the number of users working to better it. Theoretically, that means millions of people could be working to improve a single OSS program. Even companies that have thousands of employees working on license-restricted software cannot compete with the speed of the evolution of open source software.
As a result of the inability to compete with the development rate of OSS, many software companies that traditionally prevented users from improving the design of their products -- by applying patent licenses to their programs -- are beginning to realize the value of the OSS revolution.
"Somebody gets an idea, develops it in the wild, and in place of gap analysis, there's the sink-or-swim process of developer interest going viral," explains Tony Baer, head of Ovum's Big Data research department in the article, "Has open source become the default business model for enterprise software?"
Heading into 2018, the increased domination of the software industry by OSS is expected to continue. There are five OSS trends likely to have the biggest impact on software technology as a whole.
Though a seeming paradox, there is money to be made with OSS. Though there are only a handful of publicly traded companies that operate entirely using OSS, the success of companies like Red Hat, Ubuntu and SUSE over the last few years is making it clear that OSS is not synonymous with profitless.
In 2018, the number of publicly traded OSS companies should be on the rise.
Already, big data fuels OSS, according to TechCrunch.com. According to Dharmesh Thakker, Max Schireson, Dan Nguyen-Huu -- the CEO, Managing Director and Associate Director of Battery Ventures, -- 15 of the most promising 40 open source software ventures are big data related, including products from:
"As many organizations struggle to manage huge volumes of structured and unstructured data today -- generated by everything from security software to tweets to Web-enabled sensors in manufacturing plants -- they are increasingly looking for new data-management and storage solutions," and open source code is the fastest means to develop the technology required to meet those demands.
The development of applications using an open source code software development kit (SDK) sounds like a low-cost, high-return decision. But, as opposed to moving toward open source code SDKs, app development has migrated toward the cloud. One of the major reasons this has occurred is because companies -- understanding the appeal of open source code for developers -- are beginning to market their SDK as open source when it really isn't.
"Many companies that boast an 'open source SDK' only have a semi open one, meaning it can be viewed but not improved by the community. Having an Open Source SDK that external developers can't really contribute to kind of misses the entire purpose of open source," points out Danielle Blumenstyk Peterman of AppsFlyer.com in "Why Open Source is Actually Exposed: How SDKs You Integrate Affect Your Business."
"If the SDK is technically open, but is not in any way open to changes or edits," Peterman explains, "it therefore lacks one of the key elements of an open source code."
However, there is likewise a trend of companies advertising as open source that really aren't being called out in the software development industry. Watch for that trend to continue, and with it, the emergence of open source code app development. In addition, the maturation of open source development frameworks such as Laravel can continue the trend of making open source truly open.
While nothing new in the world of data centers, open source automation tools have yet to take the forefront in marketing. Expect a major shift in the management and production strategies of marketing centers in 2018.
The three areas of marketing in which open source automation tools can most help marketing centers are:
- Social media marketing: Manage and organize leads, engage with leads and build lead lists using open source automation tools.
- Contact management: Track the on-site activities and amount of time contacts spend on the site and/or engage in activities.
- E-mail marketing: Sending mass emails, tracking clicks and following up on potential leads are all e-mail potentials of open source automation tools.
The single biggest problem with open source code is that it can leave companies vulnerable to attack. While having open source code means the technology will advance faster and solutions can be developed at a much quicker pace, there is always a chance that integrating an open source code platform can lead to a breach of security.
One advantage of open source is that having a large community of people working on developing the code can increase the likelihood of security flaws being found and eradicated. As more and more companies move toward open source code, I expect the open source code community to begin working on solutions that protect the integrity of open source code while, at the same time, protecting those who choose to use it.