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Jeff Spencer

Enterprises choose open source

More enterprises are turning to open source software (OSS) to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and extend their competitive advantage. The core technologies chosen by organizations often persist for decades, so decisions that IT leaders make today are bound to affect their organizations’ ability to function and adapt in the future — whether that’s one year, or 10. That’s part of the reason, according to Red Hat’s 2022 State of Enterprise Open Source Report, that 82% of global C-suite IT leaders are more likely to select a vendor that’s open source, or who contributes to open source projects.

So there are some really great reasons to choose open source, but what if my organization doesn’t use open source software? The short answer is they almost certainly do, whether they’re aware of it or not. In vertical software stacks across industries, open source penetration ranges from 20 to 85 percent of the overall software used, according to The Linux Foundation.

Benefits of open source

Some of most profitable open source companies like GitLab, Hashicorp, and Red Hat benefit from a few very important advantages over their closed-source competitors, including:

Transparency: Open source code can be reviewed by anyone so vulnerabilities are more likely to be identified and corrected before they lead to problems. Anyone who relies on open source software can also audit it themselves, which helps identify vulnerabilities and increases confidence — a process that benefits everyone.

Flexibility: Open source software generally adheres to industry-standard frameworks and protocols, which reduces dependency on closed-source vendors and their proprietary solutions. This helps prevent vendor lock-in and promotes integration with other open (and closed) source solutions.

Cost: While open source is often more affordable than closed-source software, there’s a common misconception that it’s always free. More importantly, organizations aren’t locked into open source software, so they don’t need to pay expensive licensing fees. While some open source software is available at no cost, writing code, contributing domain expertise, and troubleshooting open source software like Firezone are all valuable endeavors that we want to support indefinitely.

Quality: With hundreds, or even thousands of contributors and maintainers, open source software usually becomes more stable, bug-free, and user-friendly over time — this is particularly true for popular projects like Firezone.

Agility: Closed-source software developers often start from scratch, and build their products in-house — a process that can take months or even years. Open source developers build and improve on existing code bases, which means it’s often more resilient and feature-rich than proprietary software.

Community: Developing open source software means having a relationship with a global community of developers — often working with contributors, responding to issues, or merging pull requests (PRs). This is a great way for organizations like Firezone to get direct feedback from their most enthusiastic users.

There aren’t many downsides to open source, and organizations increasingly publish their code for the reasons outlined above. That being said, the main reason not to open a project is when that project includes an organization’s “secret sauce” or other sensitive information that can lead to security issues or erode a competitive advantage.

The future is open source

While open source may have gotten an unconventional start from hackers, visionaries and technologists, the benefits are clear. It’s being used to modernize and standardize IT infrastructure, security, scalability, and application development. Open source is now a preferred development strategy for large and small organizations from cloud providers to security solutions and beyond.

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Replace your current VPN with Firezone — an open source solution that combines the best of zero trust network access (ZTNA), role-based access control, and WireGuard®. Sign up now to get started.

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