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A 2022 study by The Linux Foundation and Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) revealed that open-source software makes up about 70 to 90% of a modern software solution.

From speed and cost-efficiency to collaboration and immense resource access, open-source is a valuable asset for any development team, especially in today’s world, where applications need to be scalable and be launched fast.

Why Should Open-Source Be Used for Application Development?

From an overall development perspective, it’s not all about the software but also the community of developers who are actively committed to open-source. Businesses can benefit from their expertise in every aspect of software development and get invaluable insights. As a matter of fact, this holistic advantage has previously been documented in a McKinsey-led study.

In 2020, the consulting giant, while surveying senior executives across 440 large enterprises, devised an index called “Developer Velocity Index (DVI)” to weigh the most important factors contributing to Developer Velocity. Here’s what they found:

  • Organizations with a high DVI score experienced development acceleration thanks to open-source adoption.
  • Companies with high revenue growth had a 3X influence on innovation post-open-source adoption.
  • Companies with a high DVI score showcased 36% higher open-source adoption.
  • Companies with high open-source adoption were able to encourage more “collaboration and participation” and improve “how code is shared internally.”

All these insights are very good reasons why organizations should leverage open-source to accelerate innovation across their application development initiatives. Here are some of the benefits of open-source development:

Great Potential for Cost Savings

A host of application development initiatives are plagued with the issue of high costs incurred along the process. The good news is that open-source offers a non-stop cost-saving potential, a winning combination for any business, especially those that find it challenging to get new programs up in time for customers. Here’s how:

  • These components can be seen as “readymade” elements that can be plugged into the application, increasing the velocity of software development.
  • There’s free community support that companies can leverage, which is a cost-effective alternative source of commercial support.
  • There’s also more room to innovate with new features and bug fixes, which often create substantial savings. This is especially beneficial when developers want to experiment and substantiate the effectiveness of their solutions to people higher up in the management chain.
  • There are also no hidden costs for companies in terms of licensing, maintenance, or support.
Access to an Extensive Range of Tools & Resources

Open-source is powered by an immensely effective peer review system, which keeps the source code “living.” A “living code” means that it is constantly improved upon by the open-source community, which as a matter of fact, is proactive in nailing bugs, as well as adding new features through input from a variety of different developers and resource specialists. This robust process of maintenance, bug detection, and fixes allows businesses to enjoy constant updates across their project.

The good thing is that businesses can consult software and cloud vendors to harden their solutions’ security infrastructure. The vendors are able to harden the security without having to do away with the community-build code. All in all, a lot of different expert perspectives come to the fore that the developers are equipped with the adequate resources to craft applications that are jam-packed with all the necessary functionalities – and at the same time, aren’t cluttered with a bunch of functionalities that can bog down the app.

This further translates to the:

  • Ability to customize and extend solutions
  • Ability to seamlessly integrate into the wider ecosystem
  • Ability to create value-added applications that are well-equipped with the latest capabilities and feature sets
  • Ability to keep the application development initiativesadherent to customer requirements

But there are challenges as well.

Challenges of Using Open-Source

No Vendor Lock-in Can Also Be a Problem

Well, if there’s the flexibility of switching services, there’s also the risk of non-accountability. No legal team is responsible if service proves to be inadequate or ineffective.

Security Threat Still Looms

There’s always a high probability that not all security facets have been addressed within the open-source code. The testing might not have been rigorous enough to provide extensive security coverage.

Achieving the Desired Quality Is Subjective

Although the collaborative, community-driven system offers a lot of potential for quality assurance, it’s not always easy to gauge the quality of the software component under development. It’s a subjective process and often varies from one project to another. For example, not many people will be able to contribute to a project that involves niche components or frameworks.

Consider this; the aforementioned Linux Foundation-LISH study also revealed that 136 developers contributed to 80% of the code for the top 50 packages that were under examination. That lends a lot of weight to the quality factor and the possibility of the scarcity of resources to address and improve it.

How To Avoid These Challenges? (The Best Practices)

Surely, getting the most out of open-source technologies should be at the top of any business priority list. But for that to happen, they must ward off the above challenges by following these best practices:

Secure the Solution

Tackling the security challenges requires businesses to implement the following measures:

  • Use automation tools to identify vulnerabilities, prioritize high-risk vulnerabilities, schedule patch deployments, and assess risks.
  • Keep abreast of the security patch releases that are released within the community whenever a vulnerability is identified.
License the Application

Open-source licensing governs how the application code can be modified and distributed. It defines a legal relationship between the author of the code and its users. This works to reduce the problems related to accountability, advances the collaboration culture, allows for easy auditing, and makes debugging seamless.

Engage with Expert Advisors

The collaborative approach to open-source development brings in the notion that it is a community-driven process. However, it’s challenging to harness this power, considering the many options that businesses need to traverse to meet their requirements. So, it’s a best practice to engage with trusted advisor firms that have established themselves in the open-source space for years and will be able to help you navigate through the best practices.

At Pratiti Tech, we define this support in terms of helping businesses in hardening their application’s security posture, identifying and fixing vulnerabilities, offering constant maintenance and support, handling risk mitigation in terms of licensing and organizational policies, and more.

Talk to our experts to learn more.

Nitin Tappe

After successful stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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