Why should you adopt open source culture?


Open source technology is booming. It has already gained acceptance with consumers, corporations, and governments. And there is no coincidence here. The open, inclusive and constantly-evolving nature of open source fits today’s modern society aspirations for more transparency and a strong desire for cooperation at a large scale.

The term “open source” includes two core elements: technology and culture. In this article, we’ll explain how they influence each other in the Big Data context.


Open Source Technology

In the last decade, open source technology has had an enormous impact on the Big Data ecosystem.

It has become impossible not to mention open source technology. Take a look at all the new platforms offering Big Data solutions: the vast majority of them are open source oriented.

Many specialists such as Jay Kreps, who created Kafka at LinkedIn and is now CEO at Confluent or Talend’s CEO Mike Tuchen, believe that Big Data has its roots and future in open source technologies.  

Open source technology has almost become the default choice in several product categories: Big Data stores, advanced Data Science, and Machine Learning-related languages and frameworks.

Open source softwares have traditionally been competing with proprietary softwares which carry a massive risk of lock-in.

Vendor lock-in is a situation in which a customer using a product or service cannot easily transition to a competitor’s product or service.

The Ovum white paper on “The real Costs and Benefits of Open Source Data Platforms” outlines that “open source is best suited for commodity technologies… and not well-suited for enterprise applications that support differentiated business processes”.

It concludes that the most practical and cost-effective strategy for enterprises is to adopt a hybrid approach that blends open source foundational technologies with differentiated vendor solutions.

Many companies are ready to deploy open source strategies if there is a robust commercial support behind the technology.

The real cost of open source technology

Open source software may look free because customers do not pay a license. Still, there are both monetary and time-based costs associated with integrating, supporting, and updating.

The mentioned tasks are usually performed by an internal IT team or through annual subscriptions paid to commercial providers of open source technology “distributions.”

Depending on the maturity of the open source project, there may be additional costs associated with meeting security and scalability requirements.


Open Source Culture

Behind any successful open source project or product, there is a large and tight community united to deliver best-of-breed solutions and striving to make it functional, reliable and secure.

The contributors are driven by passion and purpose – and mostly motivated by peer recognition.

Even though open source technology is recognized to be capable of delivering high-quality software, it is still necessary to properly integrate it within organizations.

That is precisely when culture comes into play.

To create an internal collaboration, organizations try to mimic the practices of open source movement under the rubric Inner Source.

“The inner source is considered as the use of open source software development best practices and the establishment of an open source-like culture within organization” (Wikipedia)

To understand better the appeal of Inner Source, let consider its underlying principles:

  • Open Collaboration: collaboration that crosses the boundaries of teams, companies and nations. Developers share their work with a wide audience, and not just with a manager or a team. Everyone is welcomed, and decisions and status are merit-based rather than imposed.
  • Open Communication: communication is open, written and complete. The goal is that anyone interested in an inner source project can take part and contribute without any specific training.
  • Quality Assurance: consists in using process monitoring means and methods used to ensure quality. In the open source world, the code is poured over and optimized by thousands of contributors that guarantee its high quality.

Inner Source differs from standard open source by remaining within a single organization. The notion of openness extends across many teams within the organization.

This allows the organization to keep private the differentiating aspects of their products while benefiting from the creativity and intellect generated by employees throughout the organization.

The path to Inner Source will involve a series of corporate decisions – both technological and organizational.

Observers from many companies note that the most important cultural change is to give employees the confidence to contribute to other teams.

Finding your right level for open source is essential. The technology you choose will influence the culture of your company. And your culture will affect the choice of technology as well.

Saagie offers the best-of-breed open source technologies available on the market while keeping control of IT compliance with security and governance. You can build your Analytics projects with Inner Source or using Agile methods to make them scalable.


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