July 07, 2020 | 6min read
Open Source—Benefits for Business
In the survey prepared by Oxford Economics in 2015, 63% of executives said open-source software would be critical to agility over the next three years. Now, total global revenue in the open-source services market is expected to grow into a 30-billion-dollar industry by 2022 (a triple growth over the span of five years). If you’re running a tech startup or an enterprise and think open source is not for you—think again. In this article, we’re going to introduce you to the benefits of open source in business.
According to the Open Source: From Community to Commercialization article, there are 3 pillars of open-source business which unfold over the years, as your company grows, and allow you to measure success:
- Project-community fit—you slowly grow a community of developers who contribute to your project. Here the success is measured in Github stars, pull requests or contributor growth.
- Product-market fit—your persona is the user, who adapts your open-source software. The success can be measured by downloads and usage.
- Value-market fit—you gain customers who are willing to pay for your product and the value it brings. The success here is measured by revenue.
Of course, not every company’s core business is open source, and not all of them will touch on all 3 pillars. Perhaps only one of them suits your needs. Perhaps none. After all, there are many different open-source business models out there.
Google and Amazon offer a variety of cloud products via open source (GCP and AWS). Drift—a company with conversational marketing & sales tools—offers a basic, free subscription in open source and charges the users only for the more advanced, extended services. Others, like WordPress, provide cloud-based software-as-a-service. And you’ve probably heard of Red Hat, which provides technical support for their open-source software for the enterprise clients. For a development studio like Polidea, sharing our internal projects and tools on open source is a great investment when it comes to gathering valuable business leads and talent. It’s also a way for our developers to learn new skills and gather experience that they can pass on to other community members.
Whichever open-source business model you choose (depending on the value you offer), it is certain that OSS is good for business.
First and foremost, you get involvement from the community of developers, who not only give you feedback on your code, but also contribute and grow it for you. This eventually leads to a higher quality of your product. Additionally, the members of the community are more likely to notice some bugs and fix them—hence having the project on open source makes it more secure.
Open source helps make your project more customizable and attractive for the users. The more attention your project gets on open source, the more people are involved with it—they can tweak and use it according to their very specific business needs that you may not have predicted or had time and resources for. Also, you grow your brand awareness, which creates reliability and can bring you more clients.
You also give your users a choice to use different vendors and tweak your solution as they wish. This creates trust and helps the industry grow.
From the side of employer branding, open source helps you keep high morals in your development team, who can give back to the community by contributing to OSS libraries, and develop their skill set. Having the space for growth and personal branding also attracts new talent.
If you look at all these factors, it’s easy to see how open source—when done right—can reduce your costs and boost your revenue.
Here are some examples of open-source libraries you can get inspired by or use in your business.
- Kubernetes—is an open-source system for managing containerized applications across multiple hosts. It provides basic mechanisms for deployment, maintenance, and scaling of applications.
- Istio—an open platform to connect, manage, and secure microservices.
- Kotlin/Native—designed to allow compilation for platforms where virtual machines are not desirable or possible, or where a developer is willing to produce a reasonably-sized self-contained program without the need to ship an additional execution runtime.
- The A11y Project—a community-driven effort to make web accessibility easier, by leveraging a worldwide community of developer knowledge.
- Apache Airflow—a platform to programmatically author, schedule, and monitor workflows
- Apache Superset—is a data exploration and visualization web application that offers an intuitive interface to explore and visualize datasets, create interactive dashboards, easy, code-free, user flows to drill down and slice and dice the data underlying exposed dashboards, a state of the art SQL editor/IDE exposing a rich metadata browser and more.
And we have to mention a set of mobile-oriented BLE open-source libraries supported by our Polidea team:
- React Native BLE—is React Native Bluetooth Low Energy library wrapping Multiplatform Ble Adapter.
- RxBluetoothKit—is a Bluetooth library that makes interaction with BLE devices much more pleasant. It’s backed by RxSwift and CoreBluetooth and it provides a nice API, for both Central and Peripheral modes. All to make your code more readable, reliable and easier to maintain.
- RxAndroidBle—is a powerful painkiller for Android’s Bluetooth Low Energy headaches. It is backed by RxJava, implementing complicated APIs as handy reactive observables.
- FlutterBleLib—an open-source library for all your Bluetooth Low Energy needs in Flutter. Internally utilizes Polidea’s MultiPlatformBleAdapter, which runs on RxAndroidBle and RxBluetoothKit. It supports BLEmulator, the BLE simulator. The simulation allows one to develop without a physical smartphone or BLE peripheral and use the production BLE–related code in automated testing.
Open-source software makes your company empowered to build your business, usually for a fraction of the cost than when you use commercial offerings. Additionally, when working on and improving a solution, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one who benefits from it—it’s also the whole community.
However, sometimes you don’t have enough people or the right skills and experience to contribute to open source. Or you want to become a more valuable and respected member of the open-source community, but you simply don’t have the resources to do so. In those cases companies like Polidea can help—we have experienced open source contributors who will understand your needs, align them with the needs of the community and work together with the members to implement these custom features. They can also help you write and maintain an open-source library.
If you need open-source development and customization—get in touch!
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