The Future Of Open Source

With the effects of the economic down turn still visible at the start of 2010, open source became the logical solution for companies of all sizes. Several months on, open source software is increasingly demonstrating its viability as well as ability to meet IT requirements and today, is earning the respect it deserves as a fundamental business strategy.

In result, more and more vendors are moving away from proprietary software to embrace the benefits of open source. This is partly due to a steep rise in competition, with vendors striving to become more agile by transforming traditional business models to exploit new opportunities. With that said, companies using a single open source product today will almost certainly have several in operation within a few months.

Looking forward, it is clear that the future of open source is not linear, but exponential. Businesses will need to embrace open source tools and cloud computing services in order to maximise opportunities and to remain innovative industry leaders. Those choosing not to implement open source or cloud computing strategies will inevitably miss out on a whole host of initiatives created though the cloud and open source community and as a consequence, will have little chance of succeeding in the highly competitive markets we see today.

Additionally, achieving high growth will be extremely difficult for proprietary software providers. Why? Clients now understand and expect the flexibility of being able to try-before-you-buy, and to validate the value proposition before purchasing anything.

Proprietary software does not offer this freedom. In contrast, the subscription model used by open source software removes the historic burden of CapEx (Capital Expenditures), enabling companies to use an OpEx (Operational Expenditures) payment structure, a crucial benefit for companies who cannot foresee the economic future.

Furthermore, open source tools are by nature open and offer compatibility with a company’s legacy systems, enabling companies to benefit from efficient and cost effective upgrades that help their employees achieve their daily tasks accurately.

Another characteristic of the new major open source software houses is that their solutions can adapt to the environment as necessary. This flexibility is very appealing to the end-user.

For example, in the data integration world, it brings tremendous value not having to worry about setting up an enterprise integration repository to accomplish small tasks, like generating Excel files for analysts, or doing one-off data loads from files provided by users. With proprietary tools that offer little flexibility, users can spend more time setting up and configuring the software than doing the actual integration work.

There is no doubt that open source will always co-exist with proprietary solutions due to having markets in parallel. Also, it typically doesn’t replace existing software where traditional vendors are already deeply embedded in IT systems.

Open source is, increasingly, the solution of choice as companies implement new projects, and the potential of open source lies in providing alternatives to black-box closed vendors.

Bertrand Diard is Talend's cofounder and CEO. Prior to Talend he managed a Business Unit for one of Europe's largest systems integrators. In 1999 he cofounded a software company specialising in real-time 3D animation. He began his career in business development at Manpower Europe. Bertrand has extensive experience managing large integration projects.