Stacking up Open Clouds

Is open source the key to innovation?

Is open source the key to innovation?

Summary: Open source could lead the next wave of innovation.


"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much," Helen Keller, one of the most inspirational figures of the 20th century, famously stated.

Collaboration is a core component of modern business, and over the years, collaborative efforts have resulted in some of the world's most groundbreaking innovations, in the areas of technology, medicine and engineering. The opportunities are seemingly endless when people unite and work together, whether within a single organization or across many.

But what if this collaborative ethos is extended to include practically every human being on earth? Are there any limitations on what can be accomplished?

That is the question that open source initiatives are seeking to answer as they aim to forever change how we businesses think about technology and collaboration. Without open source, many of today’s top technology initiatives – from cloud computing to big data and mobile – would simply not exist as we know them. In the enterprise software world for instance, OpenStack – a popular open source cloud computing platform – is changing how organizations manage multiple cloud deployments with new levels of innovation, efficiency and simplicity.

The ability to invite the entire world to continuously improve a product or technology is now no longer a dream, and is happening before our eyes. So, just how can open source herald a new era of innovation?

The ability to invite the entire world to continuously improve a product or technology is now no longer a dream, and is happening before our eyes. So, just how can open source herald a new era of innovation?

It harnesses the power of the collective

Gone are the days of developers working in isolation with limited resources. In this day and age, thanks to the advent of open source technology, the R&D room has been opened up to the entire world.

As the source code is freely available to the wider world, practically anyone with a working knowledge of it - from hobbyist developers to fully-fledged research teams - has the opportunity to play with it, tweak it and constantly improve it. As open source projects such as OpenStack gain momentum and the rate of innovation speeds up thanks to a growing global networks of experts, products are developed at an incredible pace.

It's completely customizable

One of the greatest advantages of open source initiatives is that as long as the vendor makes the source code publicly available, users have free reign to do whatever they want with it.

Organizations are not bound by licensing and restrictions - they can tweak the code in whichever way they wish, tailoring it to their unique requirements and exploring new opportunities, and sharing this knowledge with others for further development.

It is unlimited in scope

Traditionally, collaborative efforts were limited by restrictions such as geographical boundaries. People needed to be in the same physical proximity to work on projects, greatly limiting their scope.

Open source projects, and those involving software in particular, are not bound by such confines. All that is needed to enable people from around the world to start collaborating is the source code and an online forum to broadcast the code.

It can make the world a better place

As some of the most famous open source projects to date have shown, these initiatives can indeed help improve the world.

In a recent example that highlights how open source philosophies are being adopted across major industries, electric car manufacturer Tesla made the bold step of making its patents available for others (including its competitors) to use "in good faith." The opportunity for the world to analyze and improve Tesla's technology can be a massive boost for the automotive industry – and the environment, as broader adoption of electric vehicles aims to slash emissions.

The betterment of the world relies on innovation, and collaboration is one of the key ingredients to accomplish this goal. Open source methodologies, which have collaboration at their core, are well-poised to be an integral part of this universal push for innovation.

What are your thoughts on this?

Topic: Stacking up Open Clouds


Harish Pillay is the Global Head, Community Architecture and Leadership with Red Hat Inc. An avid open source activist and commentator, he co-founded the Linux Users' Group Singapore (LUGS) in 1993. Harish has been in the computer industry since 1982 having built his first computer, a 6502-based machine in 1980.

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  • The 1990s have called

    They want their "open source will save the world and the solution for everything" type headlines back.
  • Too many cooks

    On the other hand, I've worked on many projects over the years where too many people have had a say and either nothing gets done, because nobody can agree or the end result isn't what the customer wanted.

    There is a fine line between successful collaboration and a total disaster.
  • Pretty clear 'open souce' is a fail

    yes, it did have a slight change around the mid 1990's, but the experiment is a failure, never able to deliver of its promises, open source is dead, bitcoins next.
    • Epic fail

      If failure means running 3/4 of the web, I'm happy with failure.
  • Very naiive

    This is a false statement,
    Yes collabration is the way for innovation, but who says that open source means collabration,
    Almost all the time open source software is used as closed source software is used, as a black box that gets input and outputs results,
    collabration is better in closed source because money is there, and when there is money, there is a better work and quality,
    How collabration is made on closed source? it's called libraries, API's, any interface just as open source software is being used,
    for example, if you use webkit to make a browser? you don't need the webkit code, as it's used as a library,
    the same can be done if webkit was closed source commercial library.
  • free/freedom open source software

    The fundamental difference between the movements is in their values, their ways of looking at the world, for the open source movement , the issue of whether software should open source is a practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it “ open source is a development methodology, free software is social movement “ for the open source movement, non-free software is a suboptimal solution. For the free software movement, non-free software is social problem and free software is the solution.Today the young generation is facing challenging times, While many new opportunities are opening for employment, they also need new skills and Knowledge. The traditional course at higher education level are the engines of knowledge advancement but it is job oriented course related to new area of knowledge and employment which are the most use full ensuring a bright future for the most deserving young generation. In this direction, Foss technologies are very efficient, free of cost ( licence) and are suitable to even large network systems. Further there is no need to paid ( Licence ) fee for the these technologies, once the IT user/students are conversant with these technologies, they can easily take on software projects of their own to earn a handsome amount and an independent entrepreneur or consultant. They will have no need to depend upon others for employment.