4 reasons the future of cloud-native software is open source

by Jeremy

Over the last several years, cloud-native development has transformed how we think about software development. To speed up release cycles, build more robust applications, and deliver superior user experiences at scale, more and more dev teams are embracing this modern approach to software development and building applications entirely in the cloud. According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), there are at least 6.5 million cloud-native developers today, quite the increase from 4.7 million cloud-native developers that existed in Q2 2019. It’s all but sure that this number will continue to increase as we move further into the future. With the increase in cloud-native developers, it is no surprise that more and more organizations are embracing cloud-native applications. On December 2020 study, for example, found that 86% of organizations were using cloud-native apps.


RELATED CONTENT: GitOps: It’s the cloud-native way

Similarly, though enterprises have long been wary of investing in open-source applications, that’s all changing, too. According to Red Hat’s 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source Report, enterprises increasingly invest in open-source solutions. 95% of survey respondents say that open source is “strategically important” to their software strategy. Add it all up, and the writing’s on the wall: If the future of software is cloud-native, it follows that the end of cloud-native is open source. Here are four reasons why. 

1. Community
The open-source community is vibrant, filled with developers from all walks of life who live worldwide. When you invest in the right open-source tools, you gain access to the software. You can leverage a diverse, global community of committed developers eager to help you through problems and troubleshoot issues. At the same time, it’s not uncommon for community members to add new features, build new integrations, or conduct security audits looking for vulnerabilities.

Conversely, open-source and open-core companies with open-source shepherd projects experience the same benefits. Not only can the community help them build a better, more secure, more feature-rich product, but they can also help promote it to folks worldwide. 

2. Freedom from vendor lock-in
According to the Flexera 2020 CIO Priorities Report, over two-thirds of CIOs are concerned about getting locked into cloud providers. 

This is another primary driver of open-source adoption. Since open-source solutions ship with open standards and full access to source code, enterprises can take hold of their destiny instead of crossing their proverbial fingers and hoping that the vendor’s roadmap aligns with the interests of their business over the long term.

Open source enables organizations to avoid getting locked into any vendor — and, by extension, getting coerced into paying hefty licensing fees for the foreseeable future.

3. Customizability
In addition to helping you avoid vendor lock-in, open-source solutions are highly customizable. It’s common for leading open-source solutions to have hundreds of integrations built by the open-source community and the open-core company behind the project.

This is a huge deal. No two organizations are the same. Yet when an enterprise invests in a proprietary solution, they aren’t given access to source code and can’t reconfigure the software to meet their unique needs. Of course, some software vendors offer native integrations out of the box. But unless your team uses the tools the vendor supports and nothing else, chances are there will be at least one or two integrations on your wishlist.

When you go the open-source way, you control your future. Your dev team can build whatever integrations they’d like. They can also fork the entire project and take it in an entirely new direction that makes meeting their objectives much easier.

4. Security and control
In the age of high-profile data breaches after a high-profile data breach, security is more important than ever when. Whenthink about regulations and consumer protection laws like GDPR and CCPA — and the resulting potential penalties for non-compliance — the importance of security compounds even further.

There was a common misconception that proprietary software was inherently more secure than open-source solutions because its source code was hidden from the public and, as such, was more challenging for bad actors to exploit.

But that misconception has evaporated in recent years. The fact is that — when you invest in proprietary tools — you’re essentially outsourcing your security stance to the vendor, trusting them that their software is secure.

By providing full access to source code and the ability to configure and extend the software however you like, open source enables organizations to take complete control over their security needs. In today’s day and age, this benefit can’t be understated.

Is your enterprise ready for the future?
Cloud-native solutions are the future of software because they enable organizations to unlock the true promise of the cloud. But to honestly do that, software needs to be open source. Not only does open-source software give organizations access to solid communities of contributors, and lets them build the perfect tool for the job while retaining complete control over their security requirements. To learn more about the transformative nature of cloud-native applications and open-source software, check out KubeCon / CloudNativeCon Europe 2021, a virtual event hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation on May 4–May 7. For more information or to register for the event, go here.

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