Open source needs sauce

The world seems to have, eventually, woken up to the power of OPEN SOURCE. It offers benefits far beyond (the perception of) low cost. In a fast-moving digital environment, it’s not enough to deploy killer applications today – we need to think about the future and what’s round the corner. In a traditional software project (which projects don’t have a heavy software involvement these days?) the selection of a product/solution is frequently governed by a defined feature set and a waterfall delivery approach.

Whilst ok at addressing the immediate needs, this approach is poor at evolving as the future is rarely a consideration at the point of product selection. Unfortunately, by the time the project has been delivered the technology, stakeholder needs and the world as a whole may have moved on.

Using an agile delivery methodology can fix some of these issues but the tricky “which product should I use” question is left hanging. Finding a product that meets 80% of your needs now and will still meet 80% in two years is a good deal tougher. Open source software is a possible solution to the challenge as most good Open Source products evolve in a direction driven by the user-base and not on the whims of a software house.

But not always; if the evolution is not going in the right direction for everyone then it’s simply a case of “forking” the product and development can continue to meet the changing needs of those who elect the new path. The future, as they say, is forked.

This is such a fundamental element of open source that it’s adoption is no longer confined to the periphery of software development. Open source is now frequently a standard item in the needs list of new projects. The ability of open source to answer some of these challenges is now seeing the speeding up of adoption of new technologies by organisations.

Open source, by itself is not enough to drive successful deployment of software projects; companies that are delivering using open source need to integrate them with other architectures and deploy alongside existing frameworks and this is where the sauce comes in. To take advantage of open source you need to add your own special sauce. It might be something as simple as a framework to produce a stable release using a number of open source products (as our VNX 4.0 is) of it could be a series of complementary products (as Red Hat does with LINUX) or complementary services (as WPEngine do by bundling hosting and a CDN with WordPress).

Whatever you use in the open source world, it will need a special sauce to avoid being replicated by your competition.