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Open Source: A Technology Trend That Keeps Growing

by Sunando Banerjee - Channel Manager, APAC & Middle East, Openbravo January-2015

It started as a platform for the emerging revenue models but now the open source movement is being tipped for even greater impact on tomorrow's technologies.

Open source began as a platform for a small community with the idea of sharing and a set of ideals about software development, a belief that developers should make their products more expedient and user-friendly by making the underlying code accessible to everyone. As the open source software movement has grown, the fundamental tenets have proven its merits. As a result, now open source is being adopted not only from Government but also by some of the largest corporations in the world.

Far from being a new phenomenon, Open Source software development has matured over more than two decades of online refinement. Not only has this model proved itself many times over to be successful commercially, it has also begun staking a claim for considerable market share in the business software market. It has been able to produce bulletproof, flexible systems and applications that can be applied up to true enterprise level. One such example is the mobile platform; open source developers launched 15,000 Android mobile projects in 2012, representing a 96 percent increase over 2011. By contrast, iOS developers launched nearly 2,500 open source projects for Apple's mobile platform, a 32 percent increase year over year, which is not too bad when you consider that the Apple App Store is not particularly friendly for open source.

Open source today is not just a platform for developers and software geeks; it is gradually becoming a powerful technology which enables professionals to provide efficient and robust software and business applications. At the enterprise level, the open source community has produced flexible, robust business management applications and systems. With a vibrant development community reviewing, re-using and building upon existing open source components, development is more secure, agile and less costly. The word of mouth publicity that is a feature of the open source community also reduces marketing costs, which can sometimes account for as much as one third of the price of a traditionally licensed software product.

Open source, web-based business applications lower costs in three ways:

1. Licensing restrictions are reduced. While open source licenses ensure the original developers are properly recognized, they provide the end users with an unprecedented degree of freedom: to inspect, use, modify, and redistribute the code without the obligation to pay for it. No vendor lock-in concept!

2. There is much more flexibility. Typically, customizing an ERP package is costly and time consuming, but open source system communities can craft high-quality code cheaply and in a fraction of the time

3. Web-based systems decrease deployment and maintenance costs and offer a cross-platform solution

Proliferation of open source licensing choices

A key driver of today's open source movement is the sheer volume of available licensing choices and how these choices have been changing, thanks to increased participation from corporate organizations that recognize the importance of community.

Cloud computing: Open source hotbed

The cloud computing phenomena has brought to prominence the importance and significance of the open source platform and is a significant driving force. Open source software is unchained from the need to obtain or track licenses. It can also be modified to fit your needs. As a consequence, open source software is hugely preferred for delivering the cloud. Moreover, the low cost of getting started with open source software in the cloud means that startup companies overwhelmingly use open source components for the non-differentiating parts of their business.

The open source movement has evolved significantly since OSI was launched. Open source software benefits both its channel and its developers. Because commercial open source vendors sell services rather than licenses, the value placed on the channel is greater. Commercial open source also ensures that professional open source firms provide their customers and organizations with quality business applications that can be modified and enhanced as per the organization’s need.

The mission of professional open source developers is to keep core code accessible at all times, while simultaneously creating products that are reliable, intuitive, and valuable to their intended users. The open source allows freedom to many developers and companies to build, enhance and modify the platform but in no way is it a free platform. Today, when so many corporations are employing efficient ERPs in their organizations, the technology has certainly become more popular, software applications have emerged to help business managers implement ERP into other business activities and may also incorporate modules for CRM and business intelligence and present them as a single unified package.

Open source technology today has officially arrived in a big way at the majority of software companies. Most organizations, channels use / employ open source technologies or ERPs to use a system of applications to manage the business.

Openbravo is an open source ISV focused on business management applications. Their web based ERP and POS solutions have been downloaded over a million times and are used in over 50 countries. They have received $18 Million from Sodena Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners, Adara Venture Partners and Gimv.

The history of Open Source, the movement and the broad philosophy, are well documented and discussed online by devotees and critics alike, but we believe this model has now come of age, moved on and evolved considerably from its initial 'ethical software' roots.