INSIGHT: Opportunities and challenges of Open Source in Enterprise

Today, open source is pervasive in enterprise IT, forming the foundation of many cloud services and applications.

Today, open source is pervasive in enterprise IT, forming the foundation of many cloud services and applications.

The open source community represents a vast pool of collaborative intellectual property, and it has become a fundamental part of businesses around the world and in Australia and New Zealand.

"Open source is a great fit for any organisation that is looking to innovate more rapidly and effectively, and to save costs and increase the bottom line," says Colin McCabe, senior manager, Services and Training, Red Hat.

"When implementing open source solutions, there are several key opportunities and challenges organisations should consider."

Opportunities include:

1. Efficiency, flexibility and speed

Enterprise IT leaders aim to be efficient, flexible and agile, and technology providers cannot always facilitate this.

Open source solutions offer a broad range of capabilities, which allows IT professionals to innovate without relying on a vendor.

2. Value

Open source can offer compelling ROI in several areas, including savings from license fees, development costs and add value such as a faster time to market.

Open source also lets organisations start with small projects, exploring options before diving in completely. By taking part in an open source community, organisations can share maintenance and sustainability costs.

3. Innovation

As more solutions and IT architectures are based on open source foundations, innovation is made easier and happens quicker, allowing for more possibilities so companies can explore a variety of solutions.

Challenges include:

1. Governance programs and policies

To succeed with an open source approach, companies should put in place governance programs and policies.

Because of the speed of innovation and development that open source enables, it is critical to know the software end-users, what they’ll be using it for, and what the expected results are.

The advantage of using open source methods is that they force companies to document and formalise processes, which will help establish these policies.

2. Implementation and execution

Open source is based on a collaborative environment where the more involved an organisation is, the better the results will be.

This makes it vital for organisations implementing an open source strategy to be active in the community.

Choosing widely-supported platforms can help make the implementation and execution easier and more successful, as these platforms tend to be reliable and more mature than others.

It is also critical to use carefully-tested applications, preferably in separate environments for development and production, and to keep abreast of updates in the open source community.

3. Information security

Many commercial open source solutions offer strong security. Organisations should look towards open source communities that are responsive towards security issues, as well as seeking the advice of security consultants.

In general, the commercial open source environment has solid information security, but it never hurts to implement extra protection.

"At Red Hat, we’ve been working for over two decades to maintain the open source model," McCabe adds.

"It’s in Red Hat’s DNA to unravel complex technology challenges ranging from cloud applications to content management using open source solutions.

"Red Hat is part of different open source communities and works on a variety of projects.

"This collectiveness provides a secure and stable environment, making open source consumable for the enterprise."