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LESSON - Open Source: Beyond the IT Infrastructure, Into the Business Applications

Open source is infiltrating the enterprise IT environment.

By Yves de Montcheuil, Vice President of Marketing, Talend
Open source on every floor

Open source, traditionally viewed as developer and infrastructure tools, is now infiltrating the enterprise IT environment.

We already know that open source software is widely present within companies’ infrastructures: security (firewall, IPS-IDS, sniffer, proxy, antivirus, anti-spam, etc.), operating systems (workstations, network, scientific computers, etc.), databases, Web browsers, etc.

Today, open source technology is found in the lower layers of almost all information systems. It is also deployed in the higher layers (business applications) as well as the middleware layers (not visible to the user), like Talend Open Studio, Talend’s flagship data integration product.

Offerings are maturing

The growing presence of open source software in the information system illustrates the greater maturity of the offerings. Some years ago, open source vendors were “preaching to the choir” by offering their solutions to users that already supported the open software movement. The contrast today, however, is that adopting organizations select open source solutions because of the competitive advantage they deliver.

Every day, new companies—including some of the largest in the world—announce their decision to develop a solution under an open source license. For government organizations that generally have stricter budgets and resources, cost and administration considerations have traditionally played a large role in IT decision making. Private businesses are not far behind. The International Oracle Users Group recently conducted a survey, which shows that 37 percent of companies using an Oracle database are also using an open source database.

The benefits of open source

With the success and growing adoption of open source clearly established, we turn our focus to its unmistakable advantages:

Quality and reliability. A long-standing pillar of the open source community is the emphasis on reliability of the code and the ability of the community to constantly fine tune the applications. While proprietary vendors seek ongoing customer loyalty, open source providers seek customer satisfaction.

Transparency. Open source code provides open access to anyone. Not only does this make the customization easier but it also reinforces the users’ independency toward the proprietary world.

Cost savings. Numerous debates have highlighted the differences between open source and free software. Although the cost savings have attracted most companies to use these technologies, it is not the main argument in favor of open source.

Respect of standards and interoperability. For years, interoperability has been one of the main challenges that faced software users. Proprietary solutions, which have been developed by isolated teams to answer specific needs, have not been designed to share, converse, and collaborate. Vendors need to alter their line of thinking and shift from locking in users with proprietary specificities and instead open up their solutions to facilitate integration into information systems.

Another advantage often cited is the reduction of the strain on resources. Indeed, open source solutions do not generally need high performance systems to deliver great performance, but they can contribute to leveraging existing systems. This is in addition to the already analyzed economical advantages.

And the drawbacks? The main drawbacks that are commonly linked with open source solutions are slowly disappearing. The main argument against open source in the past has been the sustainability of open source. Today, however, the natural evolution of successful open solutions and the technical support benefits from well-established and reliable structures have changed these perceptions. Besides, open source vendors are receiving increasing support from private investors and venture capital.

The future

Open source is becoming solidly established in enterprise IT—with even more widespread adoption on the horizon. In less than five years, many open source vendors have moved from marginal positions to being some of the most established players alongside prestigious companies and institutions.

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