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Open source software has become an integral part of the tech landscape for many large corporations, with 69% of IT leaders stating that it is either "very important" or "extremely important" for their organization's software strategy. In a study, 96% of commercial software projects utilized open source code. While the growing variety of software vendors remains an important option for corporations, open source software (OSS) offers more creative contributions. OSS can offer code in specialized areas from experts, at least partially making up for the company's own expertise deficits. Open source software can be a powerful complement to companies software development efforts by providing a library of existing and tested code, rather than always having to start from zero.
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Oftentimes, emerging technologies, such as AI or IoT, can seem a daunting challenge to begin to engage with, especially if the in-house talent and expertise aren't already present. But with these emerging technologies potentially offering new business models or innovations, it can be necessary to develop these capabilities. OSS offers the opportunity to complement your internal talent and start to engage with the approaching technologies set to revolutionize your industry.
Software vendors can complement one's software producing capabilities, but pose the risk of lock-in – that your company becomes dependent on the vendor as only its developers may be familiar with the code. However, with open source software, this dependency won't develop. Moreover, with open source code, companies have the freedom to develop it further and adapt it to their needs.
OSS projects often require frameworks to improve interoperability. The open standards not only promote a collaborative environment, but can serve to encourage best practices and the development of important architecture.
Open source code has obvious benefits for the corporation; however, it also serves to benefit its talent as well. Inexperienced junior developers can gain exposure to code written by more experienced colleagues in their field. Experienced developers can stay up-to-date with their coding skills by engaging with the OSS and can continue to learn from cutting edge pioneers. Companies that encourage their programmers to give back to the OSS community may also experience that their developers gain an altruistic satisfaction with their jobs by feeling that they're contributing to something greater than themselves.
While open source software obviously has its benefits, how well it fits to your company and how much it should be integrated into your software strategy of course depends on individual circumstances.
Culture: One factor to consider for example is the present company culture. Some companies are simply more open than others. Changing company culture is of course possible, but can be difficult depending on the starting point. OSS can be part of an effort to digitalize and open your corporation.
Security: Another important aspect to consider is security. While OSS can have robust review by its community, open source platforms can still in some cases increase the risk of security breaches for companies. And even though there may be patches for open source code, it does not have vendor releasing updates, meaning a governance system must be put in place to ensure updates are found and implemented.
Strategy vs. Support: Differentiating your product offering and company from your competitors is core to any corporation's success; as such, it is of course prudent to thoroughly consider whether software initiatives that are of strategic import should be reliant on open source code. And whereas you may want to keep control of the development of critical software in-house, OSS that merely serves to support your company may be worth integrating into your platform.
Quality: Some open source projects have countless contributors and followers, and as such can be considered as relatively reliable. For others, this is not the case. The more critical of a role the software is serving for your organization, the more critical you too should be in determining if the OSS is a good fit.
Software process mining (SPM) can generally be applied to software development to ensure its quality and efficiency. Open source software is no exception. Software process mining can be leveraged to analyze implemented OSS and determine not only the general quality of the code, but also identify areas of code high in technical debt and bugs where additional maintenance may be necessary and time consuming.
Likewise, if your corporation wishes to publish or contribute to open source software, Seerene's software process mining can be used to provide metrics proving your code's quality. Through this, it becomes more likely to be adopted and followed by others.
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