Open Source is Rewriting Digital Transformation
Biswajit Mohapatra, Partner, Executive Director, Hybrid Cloud Transformation Services, IBM
Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities for enterprises to embrace Digital Transformation initiatives at pace and scale. Enterprises are enhancing their purview of Digital Transformation initiatives to stay relevant in coming days. There is increased focus on real time automation, predictive insights and engagement innovation to reimagine customer experience and redefine the business model.
The Digital Conundrum
The new business paradigm is shaping around operational responsiveness, actionable intelligence, orchestrated ecosystem and inspired talent. The future of business is driven by Virtual and Contactless Digital Capability. Responding to this new paradigm requires inside-out transformation across people, process and technology. Culture of Agility, Architectural Point of Control, Intelligent Platforms and Open Source Technology adoption are the pillars of this inside-out transformation.
The Open Source Revolution
Open source technologies represent a disruptive force that creates secure, reliable, resilient and innovative software. Open source Android mobile operating system powers 75% of all handheld devices today. TensorFlow, AngularJS, Bootstrap and Python are few of the other examples which are at the core of Digital Initiatives today. Python has grown to be a language of choice for quick innovation and experimentation. NumPy, matplotlib, Django, pandas are leveraged by the community to accelerate software development. Kubernetes, the orchestration tool for containers, microservices and service mesh have redefined how software is developed. The container revolution has made unimaginable interoperability possible with Kubernetes and the community of developers who built it. Open source software is making it possible for Enterprises to leverage a lot of niche use cases which would have otherwise taken significant effort, time and cost to develop in house.
Open Source rewriting Digital Transformation
Open source tools and technologies are the connecting glue which binds varied technology stacks and whitespaces through portable, interoperable, responsive and vendor neutral solution patterns for successful digital transformation. The emergence of intelligent workflows leveraging community-driven open and innovative development is enabling enterprises to move beyond routine process automation to AI/ML powered automation. Enterprises need to build cloud-based Digital open platforms augmented with Data Analytics, AI/ML, Blockchain, IoT, AR / VR and other exponential technologies on the path to Digital Transformation. Open source is the vehicle of choice for creating the Cognitive Enterprise of the future where business decisions are centered around data, customer experience is propelled through customization at scale and customer engagement is managed through virtual contactless delivery.
Realizing Hybrid Cloud: Open Source tools drive the Digital Transformation agenda for enterprises via multiple facets. One such facet is Hybrid Cloud. Hybrid Multicloud has emerged as the real game changer which gives enterprises the much-needed flexibility, agility and security to embrace cloud and reap its benefits. However, interoperability and compatibility are a major hindrance in Hybrid Cloud adoption. Many open source tools are now helping to bridge this gap and help enterprises unleash the power of Hybrid Cloud by pushing interoperability to the next level and increasing prevalence of Software-defined Infrastructure as code.
Cloud Native Ecosystem: Open source tools also form the cradle for the cloud native ecosystem. Applications and platforms born in the cloud incorporate amalgamation of open source technologies and cloud tooling to facilitate new-age application development and enable building, deploying and running applications with distributed architectures at scale.
Bringing together Exponential technologies: We live in the world that is increasingly interconnected, intelligent and instrumented. Open source tools such as Arduino, Node-RED and Zetta in IoT space are already accelerating digital transformation initiatives. It is difficult to imagine a blockchain level of trust without open source software. The leading Blockchain Framework Hyperledger Fabric is an open source project and intended to be a foundation for developing blockchain applications or solutions with a modular architecture. Open source has also redefined how data is stored and consumed with several leading databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB and Redis coming from the open source stable.
Securing in the Open: Cybersecurity is the most important agenda for Enterprise Digital Transformation Journey today. Open Source tools such as OpenIAM, Apache Syncope, Nikto, Nmap, OpenVAS and OSSEC are helping enterprises to protect data, applications and infrastructure from cybercriminals. Open source tools are deployed to minimize surface area of security vulnerability and enabling proactive threat mitigation through pattern-based predictive security intelligence. Confidential Computing and Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) based on advanced encryption standards are becoming the norm to defend against sophisticated cyberattacks. A host of open-source libraries implementing third generation FHE schemes are helping enterprises build their cyber-defenses.
Open Source: Challenges
1. Security & Vulnerability of Code: Since many people have access to source code it can make it susceptible to vulnerabilities. Accessible source code also means its vulnerabilities are out in public domain and can be more easily exploited.
2. Level of support: Since open source depends on the community to resolve and fix issues, the issue resolution may not always be speedy. Many open source software support vendors are providing external support services to fill this gap, at an additional cost. Enterprises who need to balance high performance and resilience with lower costs in multivendor IT environments, Support for Community Open Source Software can provide services can increase availability, productivity and recoverability.
3. Lack of internal skills to manage and support: Since the focus is more on functionality rather than aesthetics, Open Source software sometimes may not be very easy and user friendly as compared to proprietary software. Hiring the right resources to fill the skills gap may often become a difficult task.
4. Cultural Constraints: Embracing open source needs a cultural change for adoption. Embracing the open source mindset may need active focus with training, recognition, tooling and an organizational mindset to consume and contribute to open source.
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