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Open Source is at the Heart of Innovation

By Special Guest
Jean-Baptiste Onofre, SOA Architect, R&D, Talend
June 15, 2016

In the context of a globalized economy where competition is tougher than ever and where product lifecycles continues to shorten, innovation is a must have in order for businesses to remain relevant. Innovation enables companies to improve their performance and productivity, to conquer new markets, and invent new products and services that meet ever-evolving customer needs. More broadly, innovation benefits all of society since it contributes to creating new businesses and therefore jobs.

Open source: pivot of digital business transformation

In the area of ??technology, open source has become in recent years a major vector for innovation particularly as more and more companies embark on their digital business transformation. For example, the impact of "big data" in data analysis today is revolutionizing business practices and professions in several ways; in marketing (customer knowledge and behavior, personalization of offers); in logistics (route optimization and in-store inventory), in industrial applications (predictive maintenance, energy savings); in research and development; human resources management (recruitment); healthcare and/or to help deter fraud. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the many benefits it promises to deliver in almost all sectors, the use of Big Data applications is proliferating even more broadly within today’s enterprises. In fact, it’s become hard to imagine doing business without big data.

In response to these explosive IoT and big data trends, a new generation of systems has been designed to help manage and wield the power of data within organizations today. One in particular that is experiencing widespread adoption is an open source technology called Hadoop. In fact, according to Allied Market Research, the global Hadoop market is expected to garner revenue of $84.6 billion by 2021, registering a CAGR of 63.4 percent between 2016 to 2021.  Open source technologies allow companies to take advantage of the growing body of data easily accessible and usable, but at a far lower cost vs. proprietary software solutions.  Not only do customers appreciate how open source allows them to "try before you buy," but they also see the open-source world as evolving more rapidly than the proprietary world because of the sharing that takes place among developers. The whole Hadoop ecosystem is moving far faster than solutions that are owned and developed by just one vendor. Having solutions that are open source-based, taps into a whole community of creativity and spurs the creation of a myriad of new applications and functions.

Similarly, the cloud is mostly built on open source technologies (OpenStack and Docker). As is mobility (Android) and social networks (Wordpress, Open Graph). In other words, the four most highly innovative areas of technology today (the famous "SMAC": Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) all rely mainly on open source.

And if you think it’s just for small companies with limited budgets and resources, you’re mistaken. Even large enterprises that have perhaps—up until now—favored the use of traditional proprietary software solutions are turning to open source to boost their innovation. In fact, according to a survey conducted last spring, 78 percent of companies said today use open source. IDC claims there is an increased use of Open Source software and Hand coding in organizations with Hadoop and NoSQL, and—as noted above—the use of Hadoop is massively on the rise.

Experimentation: The first stage of innovation Beyond the power of software supported worldwide by thousands of developers, there are economic ease of deployment and use benefits that give open source solutions a decisive advantage over proprietary technologies. Open source solutions are free to download and license, faster to get up and running and require limited initial investment. What could be simpler than downloading software and immediately start the development of a prototype? Test, consider, experiment, make mistakes, and start questioning, refine ... all elements that define the innovation process ring true in open source.

The birth of the open source model was made possible by the ideas and solutions from new market-driven entrepreneurs such as Red Hat, Cloudera, Talend, etc. This new economic model is breaking traditional with ‘vendor lock in’ proprietary solutions and is actually doing a much better job of effectively addressing customers’ evolving business requirements.

The world of enterprise technology is a bit like Darwinism: evolve or die. Open source has become a key driver of today’s business simply because of its innovative nature that allows it to evolve with changing market conditions. If some ‘dinosaur’ solutions still exist, they should think about pulling their heads out of the sand and taking a good look at whether or not their business model is pioneering enough to keep pace with the rate of change, of if they are just going to be left in the dust.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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