There’s no point denying it: we’re living in an increasingly connected global community. Gone are the days of tech powerhouses jealously guarding their latest discoveries for limited distribution. Coding is becoming a language unto itself, with more and more of the population attaining fluency in their lifetime. This has been aided by the industry-wide rise of open source. Finally, coding ecosystems have become the natural habitat for consumers and developers alike. Whether you’re part of Facebook’s gargantuan “enterprise engineering organization,” or one of the open source community members contributing to over 60% of runtime in CoreFX .Net core libraries and CoreCLR .Net Core, you’re currently making industry history.
So what is Open Source Software (OSS)? OSS is any software with source code that can be inspected, modified, or enhanced. Typically, each OSS comes with its own license terms dictating how the code can be used or redistributed. Working for Yahoo’s Open Source and Standards Team, I witnessed its incredible potential firsthand. When developers are open to work with others in the open, their innovation power is exponential. As a member of the TODO Group, I watched a cohesive community creating, developing, and maintaining thousands of projects both large and small. Through open communication and development, we were able to transform the tech landscape and get new perspective on old issues.
Still, many members of the software community have misconceptions about the increasing importance of OSS. Let’s tackle some of those false notions:
Open Source is just for startups and outlier programs.
With the recent announcement that Facebook has open sourced one of its internal IT-management services, it’s clear that industry giants are converting to open source ideals. Operating on such a vast scale, Facebook recognizes the potential for open source users to create unique, timely solutions to fringe problems without depleting company IT resources.
Open Source is meant for developers and programmers only.
The beauty of OSS is that anybody is welcome to copy, learn from, and enhance the code! From Microsoft’s most legendary product developers to your favorite barista down the street, open source puts the future of technology in the hands of the community.
Open Source is just a fad, it won’t last long.
On the contrary, open source communities are continuing to grow across the industry. Many enterprises are seeing the benefits of open source communities over proprietary softwares, which can be innovative dead-ends. As more and more proprietary-based vendors such as Microsoft and IBM shift to an open source model, OSS pioneers such as RedHat are clearly positioned to lead the revolution. With 1M+ projects and counting, RedHat’s growing portfolio demonstrates the potential of a collaboration-based tech industry.
What does this mean for the future of tech? According to industry leaders, this collaborative model serves the greater tech community well. Open source is all about maintaining a healthy ecosystem. With more users coming on board to support and collaborate with industry giants, the sky’s the limit on what can be achieved.