In the 1990s, two powerful trends emerged that changed the way software is built today: Open source software (OSS) and IT outsourcing (ITO). As Linux served as the torchbearer for OSS, and the Y2K threat resulted in mainstream adoption of ITO, both models have grown significantly in the past decade.
Although these trends have evolved independently, there are several ways in which open source and outsourcing are working together to present new prospects for the industry. Here’s how software businesses can derive maximum value from these investments while minimizing their risks.
The Similarities between Open Source and Offshoring
A recent report by The Standish Group states that adoption of open source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion to consumers every year. McKinsey predicts that the global software outsourcing business is expected to hit $1.6 trillion by 2010.
As the world moves towards SaaS and Cloud Computing, both OSS and ITO are facing several opportunities and threats. Some industry observers have predicted that the commercial vendors will be the saviors of OSS. Other pundits expect a downfall in outsourcing as we know now, in the face of rapid adoption of cloud models.
While these two phenomena have evolved somewhat independently, there are also many shared similarities. Consider the following characteristics:
OSS is free in the way it gives philosophical and technical “freedom” for developers to use, study, modify and re-distribute it. The use of such software has helped reduce vendor “lock-in” in an industry dominated by many powerful mega vendors.