Tytus Kurek, Product Manager, Canonical
As businesses came under pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic to remain afloat, many sought new technology solutions to better support the business and help accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. Because of this, cloud adoption skyrocketed – and it is not a temporary trend. Gartner forecasts that businesses will continue to explore cloud options, with investment in public cloud services set to reach $482 billion in 2022, clearly demonstrating the continued value cloud computing has to modern businesses looking towards the future.
Alongside cloud computing, open source is also seeing growth in its use, with 77% of businesses reportedly increasing their use of the technology by 2021. Looking at the use of open source in the cloud specifically, proprietary cloud vendors do offer equivalent solutions, but to varying degrees. It’s rare for these businesses to fully open their services, meaning their customers don’t benefit from the range of services open source can provide.
Open source cloud solutions should be the first choice for businesses looking to advance their own cloud capabilities as they offer clear advantages, such as reduced vendor lock-in and improved security practices.
Reducing vendor lock-in
For example, if an organisation overwhelmingly relies on a single vendor or a cloud solution, it can fall victim to vendor lock-in. This puts the company in a potentially difficult position because if a vendor increases its prices or breaks the continuity or quality of its service. Businesses face a difficult decision – if they want to switch, they can only do so by incurring substantial costs or disruption to businesses. Worse, it is especially dangerous for growing businesses because the unique solutions that made sense when they first started out often no longer work as their company grows.
A clear resolution is to rely on open source, because it can be modified and distributed freely, which means the user cannot be tied down to one distributor. Businesses can simply switch solutions or adapt their current options as they scale up or down, depending on their current focuses and operations.
The benefits of open source for businesses
Once implemented, open source cloud solutions have several business advantages. One of the most appealing advantages stems from financial benefits. If organisations adopt an open infrastructure, they don’t have to pay vendor licence fees, which can be a substantial expense that cuts into company overheads. Additionally, compared to proprietary software solutions, the cost of support and maintenance is dramatically lower than equivalent services. Saving on central business costs frees up capital to be repurposed into other areas of the business, such as R&D and business transformation, which can have a positive impact on innovation and productivity.
Another advantage is the rate of innovation, which greatly improves as a company explores cloud solutions. Open source is a hub for innovation because of its reliance on community collaboration and engagement. By sharing their knowledge and experience, communities can produce new resources and opportunities for the cloud and the businesses that rely upon it. This is especially valuable as business demands are becoming increasingly complex. With open source technologies, companies can develop their own solutions rather than trying to alter the one-size-fits-all applications of proprietary vendors. The resulting cloud solution can be far more adaptive, compatible and resilient to modern business needs.
Improving security with open source
The ongoing shift towards cloud is naturally being accompanied by an increasing concern around cybersecurity. Over the past few years, we have seen larger cloud vendors hit with a number of security issues, so much so that the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority began to increase its supervision of major cloud providers. While open source code is not inherently safer than closed-source software, it can be immediately patched thanks to broad community coverage.
For example, open infrastructures offer organisations full transparency, as they can see the bare bones of any cloud service or software and understand the realities of its security. Developers can then have a greater sense of where potential breaches may occur and then build appropriate security measures into the foundations of the cloud. Further, community involvement translates to higher levels of vulnerability disclosures, which means they can usually be addressed and patched quickly. This means that open source cloud solutions can be both flexible and resilient to increasingly sophisticated and adaptive threats, greatly reducing the concerns developers may have around unknown vulnerabilities.
In comparison to proprietary software, open source solutions offer a compelling and competitive alternative. Fundamentally, they provide significant financial savings which can be funnelled into other areas of the business, further encouraging company-wide innovation and helping to address complex business challenges. With a reliance on technology and increasing competition in today’s business world, organisations should be looking to equip themselves with the most effective cloud infrastructure available. Increasingly, open source solutions offer the key to a secure and bright future.