What is Open Source Software and How Does it Work?

open source technology with evros and red hatNot long ago, the use of open source – no matter the size of the organisation – was unthinkable. Now, open source has solidified itself as an innovation engine for the software industry, with over 90% of IT leaders using enterprise open source today.

Many technology trends that are changing the way we work and do business were born in open source – cloud computing, internet of things, machine learning… the list goes on. If you’re new to open source or are looking to brush up on your understanding of the technologies, we’re going to cover some points that show why organisations of all industries are choosing to innovate the open source way.


What is open source?

Open source is a term that originally referred to open source software. Open source software is code that is designed to be publicly accessible, where anyone can see, modify and distribute code as they see fit.

Open source software is developed in a collaborative way, allowing anyone to inspect the source code. It has many advantages, allowing the development of open source systems to be community-led, with developers suggesting changes to open source operating system’s code. Because of this, it is more flexible and has more longevity than its proprietary alternatives, because it is developed by communities rather than a single author or organisations.

Open source has become a movement that reaches beyond software production, using the values and decentralised production model to find new ways to solve problems in all communities and industries.


How does open source work?

For a piece of software to be open source, it simply means that the source code is openly available for anyone to review, contribute to, and in most cases adapt for your own needs. Once developed as an open source community project, the software is then released under an open source licence for anyone to view or modify.

Many open source projects are hosted on GitHub, where you can access repositories or get involved in community projects. You cannot find the source code for something like Microsoft Office, as this software is considered proprietary or ‘closed software’. The differences between open source and proprietary software is quite simple, but leads to very different business models and results. The common misconception is that closed software or ‘paid software’ must be better than open source, but this isn’t always true.


Red Hat and open source

At Red Hat, for example, they use an open source software development model to create enterprise open source products and solutions. Red Hat developers start with community-built open source software that meets the needs, partially or fully, of customers, by actively participating in hundreds of open source projects. They build upon open source projects, hardening security, patching vulnerabilities, and adding new enterprise features for their customers, and then contribute these enhancements back to the original project for the benefit of the community as a whole.

The overall opinion is that the software is more reliable because a number of developers are working on a project, constantly improving upon previous versions.


Why choose open source technologies?

Open source software is incredibly valuable for many businesses, not just programmers, because it unlocks the potential of many more people to become innovators than a closed-source model. Some common reasons for using open source technologies include:

Collaboration: Open source communities ensure that you can find help, resources, and varied opinions that reach beyond one interest group or one company. It encourages global collaboration, which benefits the masses.

Flexibility: More than ever, organisations around the world rely on flexible technologies and solutions to meet the changes in the world, as shown through COVID-19. You can use open source software to address problems that are unique to your organisation, thanks to the open collaboration and modifications seen with open source. You aren’t locked in to using the code in any one specific way, and you can rely on community support when implementing new solutions.

Reliability: Open source code is freely accessible and the open source community is very active, which results in open source code being actively monitored and improved upon by programmers all over the world. Where proprietary code relies on a simple author to keep it updated and working, open source code is constantly updates through the active open source communities and standards.

Cost Efficiencies:  Open source the code itself is free – which results in cost efficiencies over other solutions, as it only leaves you to pay for support and security services, which are available through Evros.


Choose Evros and Red Hat for open source

As the challenges of a COVID world has demonstrated, some problems are too big for one person or one organisation to solve. It is in moments like this where open source truly shows its power, where individuals and organisations from all around the world can come together to rapidly develop solutions that meet new challenges.

At Evros, we help our clients transform their businesses by leveraging open source technologies with partners such as Red Hat. Red Hat is the largest open source company in the world, and we work with them to build and support open source products together for our customers. As a Red Hat partner, Evros has the expertise and experience to ensure rapid development and delivery of enterprise open source solutions.

Find out more about our open source solutions and partnership with Red Hat.