Open source is so popular and widely used that there are people who are using it daily without even realizing it. There are people who use WordPress, one of the most popular open source platforms, for blogging. There are many who use Mozilla Firefox, another digital contribution from open source, for browsing. Open source development services are highly demanded by enterprises across various industries.

As a matter of fact, a survey by Black Duck last year revealed that 60% of the surveyed businesses reported an increase in the use of open source in 2017.

Despite the wide acceptance and popularity, open source technologies are heavily criticized by many. Many myths surround the technology and many people believe those myths and misconceptions are true. Here are 5 such open source myths that people still believe to be true.
 

It’s free

 
The ‘free’ of open source technologies relates to ‘freedom’ i.e. open source technologies tend to have fewer restrictions than their proprietary counterparts. People think it’s all about the monetary cost and ‘free’ means it wouldn’t cost them anything.

However, there are free (literally) open source technologies available but they may not be the most up-to-date or feature-rich. Typically there wouldn’t be any licensing costs for open source software. But there are exceptions to this as well. The bottom-line is that not all open source is free, and not all free open source is good enough to make a difference for users.
 

Large companies don’t use open source tools

 
Open source tools, especially open source software, has been used by organizations of all sizes since the early 1990s. Corporate giants like Microsoft, Google, IBM, and many other companies use open source tools in some form. Open source software development is a big industry with an ever increasing number of developers.
 

Open source software aren’t secure at all

 
Many organizations refrain from using open source tools due to the misconception that they are less secure than proprietary software. This wrong notion is mostly due to the fact that the source code of an open source software is openly available to anyone who wants to tinker with it. This increases the likelihood of black hat hackers figuring out a vulnerability to exploit.

But this isn’t the whole truth. Contrary to public perception, open source codes also serve as a way for many open source experts to verify the integrity and security of the code i.e. security vulnerabilities are more likely to be detected, reported, and removed.
 

You can’t always count on support for open source software

 
It’s true that some open source software don’t have a long lifespan. These software “die” once the community backing them leaves them behind. It’s the community itself that provides the biggest support for open source technologies. It’s pretty much the same for proprietary software as well. The company that developed the software may simply stop providing support one day, and move on to a more lucrative project. Popular open source software with a reputation will likely still have a community backing it, ready to help anyone with technical issues.
 

Conclusion

 
These are but a few myths around open source software. It isn’t as unreliable as many people still seem to believe. It’s open source technology that powers quite a lot of popular platforms that have proven their worth across various industries. An enterprise can have a customized open source software developed to drive business growth efficiently and securely – something that can do the job just like a proprietary software can but more cost-effectively.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Considering today’s fast-paced development cycles and cloud-boosted enterprise growth, businesses require firm and steady support from robust software that fits well within their environments. In light of such dynamic business ecosystems, forbidding open source technologies and relying solely on proprietary closed source software could be detrimental. Leveraging open source components efficiently can benefit enterprises in more ways than one with just a small investment.

One such benefit would be the competitive edge an enterprise can get; particularly startups. Despite prevalent security concerns about open source, several enterprises still rely on open source development services to craft custom software that can augment their operations and accelerate growth, and most of them succeed.

Why some are not succeeding even with the power of open source is a question that can be attributed to how they leverage the technology.

That said, here are a few best practices for enterprises to get maximum benefits from an investment in open source technologies.
 

Patch management

 
Even if it’s a custom-built software, an enterprise requires a centralized patch management framework. This ensures that patches from vendors are applied to the organization’s infrastructure on time and with efficiency. This is a security aspect that generally raises questions about open source software security.

Yes, the source code is available for all. But it doesn’t necessarily compromise the security of the software as long as the code isn’t made available for the public. The point is that many enterprises neglect certain security vulnerabilities such as the OpenSSL vulnerability. Developers can update components to fortify the software and augment the security. But ignoring vulnerabilities like the one mentioned above can delay updates considerably, giving room for cyber-criminals to infiltrate and cause damage.

That’s why organizations need to cultivate the ability to patch quickly and manage patches. Developers who know what they are doing would recommend cataloging the various open source components to keep track of them. So when a vulnerability is exploited somewhere, they can identify the applications that are at risk from the inventory, and fortify them with patches.
 

Prescribed policy for leveraging open source

 
The risk appetite of organizations vary based on their maturity and their targeted markets.  The organization should have a prescribed policy or a set of guidelines regarding how they will use open source software. Lacking such policies might lead the IT team to assume that they can use any open source component. This could, in turn, result in a product brimming with vulnerabilities, incompatible software licenses etc.
 

Controlled repositories

 
Optimized modern day IDEs make it possible for developers to get access to large open source libraries within their native environments. However, this may contradict an enterprise’s policies. Organizations can bar access to such repositories giving access only to approved software components.

Using commercial products that regulate and provide access to local cached versions of repositories is a good practice which allows the security team to closely monitor and control which components are included in the final product. Additionally, this practice also ensures that only approved components are used not other versions that may add potential vulnerabilities to the product.
 

Conclusion

 
Open source software development is not going to decelerate any time soon, and proves to be the catalyst that brings innovation into the mix in the modern enterprise. However, such widespread use also creates risks. The key is to understand open source components and formulate policies that ensure judicious utilization of the components. This could keep driving innovation without impacting security.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Open source keeps picking up the pace every year evidently. It was expected to boom as each year passed. Now we have reached a point where almost all applications feature some sort of open source element.

According to Gartner, an estimated 70% of newly deployed applications would be running on open source databases by 2018.

Integrating open source elements to an application enables developers to cut costs considerably and reduce time-to-market. The immediate future may add to the benefits, but because of technology’s metamorphic nature, the existing and established ways will be replaced with new ones.

Here are a few ways open source technologies can transform enterprises in the coming years.
 

Critical gaps in the model will become obsolete

 
Despite its unprecedented growth and the many benefits for developers, the open source model still has many critical gaps that haven’t been addressed yet. One of the most important of those gaps – collaboration, however, is being redressed. By 2018, experts expect seamless collaboration in software development and other sectors with multiple functionalities.

We already have collaborative platforms sporting functionalities like video conferencing, essentially allowing developers to form workgroups. A great example is GitHub.

But it isn’t just collaboration that needs to be addressed. There are obstacles for troubleshooting and technical support as well, more so than we think despite the huge open source community in the internet. Great technical support so far only applies to the more popular open source titles. This ‘hitch’ led to a new trend where open source software will be provided with commercially supported services. Though this can somewhat set things right, this particular gap is expected to be completely taken care of next year.
 

Security concerns will be addressed

 
This is something we’ve been hearing for a long time, ever since open source started gaining traction. Security has always been a concern since the source code of open source software is open and free. Because anyone can modify this code, vulnerabilities will most likely be present. This makes it particularly easy for hackers, and particularly threatening for enterprises wanting to use such software.

Things got more complicated after enterprises started shifting to the cloud while using open source software outside the company firewall. All hackers need to do is exploit those vulnerabilities to get access to the system from outside the firewall. This increases the risks of high impact cyber-attacks on profitable applications that enterprises use.

For the past few years, developers and security professionals have been paying close attention to this issue, while figuring out ways to implement effective security mechanisms and encryptions. 2017 increased the stakes. So we can expect some serious progress on this issue next year.
 

The Open Source – IoT compatibility

 
Open source established its authority as a preferred platform for the growing IoT. The application is primarily on the automobile industry. Although things look good at the moment with open source technologies being adopted by more businesses for IoT related applications this year, experts estimate that the sector will soon start to be plagued by the same concerns people have when it comes to general open source software.

2018 will be about exploring open source vulnerabilities in the IoT and sector, and hopefully coming up with effective solutions. That said, the automobile industry is certainly going digital and open source will definitely play a vital role in its evolution in the coming years.
 

The fate of existing open source technologies

 
Open source technologies have proved their worth in the form of stable and efficient infrastructure software as well. However, more cutting-edge closed software solutions have been coming out recently, offering considerably better services to customers. However, despite the odds, the open source community promises an immediate comeback in the sector. This could mean that enterprises will have far better options for infrastructure solutions next year that are well worth the investment.

The same can be said for Cloudera, another open source platform that’s gaining popularity along with Elastic. Though it’s still too early to say that these technologies will have a much bigger role in the coming years, they will nevertheless trigger the development of more efficient solutions – open source and otherwise. Other existing open source technologies like Drupal 8 is expected to evolve even further to give more flexibility to developers in future projects. This also applies to companies providing open source development services.

Collectively, everything seems to be indicating that there is no stopping the open source trend any time soon. It has grown larger this year, and shows no signs of stopping next year as well, unfolding lucrative prospects for enterprises and startups alike.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan

Many enterprises seem to approve of the benefits of open source technologies in running their businesses so much that they have already adopted them. However, there are enterprises that are still hesitant to use open source.

Though workers and managers don’t mind deploying the technology wherever possible in IT environments, it’s still a hard sell with management, partly because that department is particularly resistant to change. Why would they want to fix something that isn’t broken? They don’t want to make changes by bringing in open source technologies, while everything’s already functioning properly.

Another reason could be the fact that open source software are indeed open – neither bought nor sold. Then there is a general perception that the “free” in free doesn’t necessarily mean “good”.

Ironically, open source software does indeed provide a lot of benefits to enterprises that use them properly. Here are a few reasons that explain how an enterprise benefits from using open source technology.

  • Cost – Back in the days, vendors of proprietary software spent a lot of money to convince enterprises that proprietary software are more beneficial, easy to maintain, and less expensive to deploy. The relatively new (then) open source technology couldn’t compete with that.

Times have changed however. Now it doesn’t take a big effort to prove that open source is indeed everything it claims to be and more; a better option compared to expensive proprietary software.

Open source software is generally free, and the users need only pay for support. Open source vendors generally charge only a fraction of what proprietary vendors charge for product support. Present day open source software also comes with adaptive capabilities to overcome challenges that arise when new applications are deployed.

  • Versatility – Not all proprietary software are versatile. Salespersons may say otherwise before getting an enterprise to sign the contract. Proprietary software are basically just off-the-shelf solutions designed to be effective only in a limited set of use-case scenarios. Yes, most vendors offer a 30 day free trial. But it might take longer than 30 days for an enterprise to realize that the software needs a specific feature to tackle a particularly redundant challenge. Contacting the vendor won’t help when it comes to proprietary software. They probably wouldn’t understand why the enterprise would want such a feature.

When it comes to open source software, the enterprise can take more time to completely evaluate it. Because the enterprise gets access to the source code of the software, they will also be able to figure out the areas where the software lacks a necessary feature that can meet the firm’s needs, and work it out the way they see fit.

  • Scalability – Open source products for enterprises can scale to large proportions. The release of Kubernetes enhanced this feature allowing enterprises to scale up whenever the demand rises, and down when the demand drops. Though this feature mostly helps large enterprises, even small companies benefit from it. They won’t have to rely on other platforms for scaling, and can do so without hassle when they hit paydirt.
  • Security – The security aspect of open source has always been a subject of debate. Because everyone gets access to the source code, people with malicious intent can locate and exploit the vulnerabilities in the code, which can spell disaster for enterprises. But the open source community begs to differ. They seem to believe that because a large number of developers and security experts get access to the source code, security vulnerabilities will be identified sooner.

Once a security vulnerability is identified, they will immediately start working on a patch. In practice, open source software are the most vulnerable in systems that aren’t properly configured or patched.

 

Conclusion

 
Proprietary software don’t get released like they used to nowadays, which is why experts think open source is the future. Although the trend is only picking up pace, there is still a question of quality. Open source software for enterprises aren’t a set of codes developed by kids for their college projects. Google started the Kubernetes project, and NASA had a role in the development of OpenStack. Big players have already started favoring open source, which makes this the right time for enterprises to adopt the technology and future-proof themselves.

Written by: Ajeesh Azhakesan