Open Source Technology: Big Factor For Small And Medium Businesses

by Pawan Chawla, Head of IT, CarDekho

Modest, small and near-ignored beginnings, challenges won over to reach the stars – nearly every start-up goes through such a life cycle; be it the ones that go on to become drivers of the Indian economy, the ones that are still vying for such coveted positions, or those that are only beginning in the Indian business horizon.

The biggest challenge that most start-ups face is that, they think they don't have resources. Despite their desire to grow the team, start-ups are hindered by the perception of talent is expensive. Marketing spend is another such challenge that they are faced with while building a brand. Their ambition of building a unique product is obstructed by the concerns of a budget for the technology they need. While initial spends on proprietary tools would mean stretching the resources for a bootstrapped start-up, opting for open-source software with communities’ support on the Net is a practical option, even if a concept or an idea fails.

Adopting a new technology is similar to buying a product; you tend to adopt one which you have experienced or read great reviews of.

The solution development platforms, solution development frameworks, front end, system software (Application Server Platform and Database/RDBMS Platform), server operating system, reporting and third party tools integration are based on open source technology. For instance, some of the software development infrastructure tools used are Eclipse, Apache, Perl, OpenSSL and CVS.

Use of GIMP or Sketch over other proprietary applications is advised. That does not mean we should not use proprietary products, but we see advantage of other products more over proprietary applications. While, with a simple UI, Sketch has many features similar to that of proprietary applications, including layers, gradients, colour picker and style presets, GIMP offers a wide toolset, similar to some of the proprietary applications in many ways, and is a great alternative if you're looking for a no-cost image editor.

Remember you don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over. And it’s because you fall over that you learn to save yourself from falling again. And that is exactly why open source technologies should be learnt.

Why opt for open software?

To adopt open-source technology, being tech-savvy comes in handier than having a formal education of a tool or a product. Adopting open-source technology allows start-ups to divert their funds to marketing, sales and acquiring talent for further innovation.

Adoption of open-source technology is not about getting over proprietary tools. Rather, it is about understanding and deploying resources optimally and judiciously, so that you can reap more from it and move forward.

For start-ups, such enablers are crucial to customise and innovate.

Open source technology is actually a lesson for minnows trying to enter the business arena. Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter are a few examples of established companies that have banked upon open source software.

Organisations seek technology that is agile, inter-operable, reliable, and cost-effective. Although proprietary software available in the market addresses organisations’ specific requirements, these solutions entail high licensing and maintenance costs, and niche technology skills to develop and enhance implementations. On the other hand, open-source technologies offer freedom, faster innovation support, and a quick path to maturity.

Open source technology has helped us to define our strategy and roadmap. Also, it has helped us reduce software license costs and improved delivery efficiency.

Before the turn of the millennium, American computer security and privacy specialist Bruce Schneier labelled open-source as a “smart engineering practice" where “public security is always more secure than proprietary security.” In other words, open source is not just sound but safe too.

Access, facilitate and grow

It is less important where you start. It is more important how and what you learn. If the quality of learning is high, the development curve is steep, and in time you can find yourself in a previously unattainable place.

Learning with experience can be complicated. It can be much more difficult to adapt to open-source technology than legacy software. If you fail, you will think carefully about the reason and that is how you learn new technology.

Self-learning is the highest form of learning. And hence, learning shouldn’t be restricted to classroom or mandatory programmes. Also, self-learning plays a crucial role in making one creative.