The open source movement

The open source movement

Stephan Fabel, director of product at Canonical – the publisher of Ubuntu – gives us a brief history of open source and how it came to be.

Apple recently joined AWS, Google and Microsoft as premium members of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) – the home of open source projects like Kubernetes. These members are organisations actively using and giving back to the open source community.

With these giants gaining CNCF membership, it begs the question of why open source usage has been growing so rapidly? 

How and why open source went mainstream?

In 1998 Netscape released its Navigator browser as a free software – which marked the start of the open source movement.

The strategy Netscape chose was to emphasise the business potential of sharing the software’s source code. Same as with science – if all researchers kept their methods secret, the science would develop a lot slower. The results would be seen by the world, but the scientific community wouldn’t be able to verify them and build on the closed research. 

There are a number of advantages for IT teams in using open-source software, including: time-saving, flexibility and unprecedented access to innovation.

Additionally, open source makes it easier for businesses to move between frameworks and use the best tools for the task they need to complete.

With a big variety of open source apps available, IT teams are free to pick and choose those with the right fit for their organisation. 

Open source software recently became an essential for major developments in emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and edge computing.

Robots used in medicine, self-driving cars and smart cities can’t be built upon technology owned by one specific company, so the developers look to open sourced solutions that allow the global community of innovators to achieve top results.

Open software means it’s transparent and secure

Besides providing easy access to innovations and software frameworks for IT teams, open source software also increases trust, which is essential for security compliance in the long term.

When it comes to close-sourced software, it is impossible to verify all background activities happening, and in case of a bug or an error, it is hard to analyse the reasons behind them, given only the original developer can access the backend. In the case of open source – the community of developers around it is very quick to spot and fix bugs or errors.

Being part of open source community and contributing code to open source projects gives developers the chance to help shape our entire technological future.

Cyber-attacks and data breaches are a growing threat, which makes maintaining water-tight security for IT projects an essential focus for any business.

In open source projects, the developer community acts as an extra layer of security. 

Specifically, Kubernetes, a cloud container coordination platform which was started as an internal project at Google and became one of the biggest open source projects in the world, has a strong and passionate community focused on security. 

The future is open

Open source software is at the peak of its popularity. Black Duck Software recently conducted a survey of the IT decision makers which outlined that more than 60% of respondents already use open source software in their organisations.

As enterprises are realising the benefits open source can bring from a technological perspective, it is quickly becoming a necessity for success.

Besides just integrating open source software into their IT operations, an increasing number of organisations are building entire businesses around it. 

Emerging technologies including AI, machine learning, internet of things and cloud computing have created a platform where open source becomes essential for fast progress, and open source infrastructure projects have given developers an opportunity to share the future of technology.