Putting the Open back into Open Source
Agility has never been more important than it is in today’s disrupted digital world. Leaders in every industry are trying to find a balance between the stability that allows them to plan for the future, while creating highly agile organisations that can quickly respond to new challenges and opportunities.
This agility only comes from the ability to innovate at speed, which is why open source communities are as vital as ever. According to SUSE’s recently commissioned Insight Avenue report, Why Today’s IT Leaders are Choosing Open, 84% now see open source as a way to cost-effectively drive this innovation.
Yet it appears many IT leaders have noticed the same worrying trends that we have in the world of proprietary software. While 82% say they still feel optimistic about the future of open source, 76% also say that the involvement of big tech players in open source could erode confidence and trust in the community.
Open Source vs Openness
Due to the ubiquitous nature of open source in enterprise technology, many vendors have created rigid and homogenised commercial solution stacks. There is nothing wrong with this approach as long as these solutions are interoperable and helping customers to innovate. The problem arises when vendors only support their own technologies with their commercial open source solutions. This creates lock-in and limits an organisation’s ability to choose the right solution for their needs. It also greatly hampers their ability to innovate everywhere.
It is quite clear that using open source solutions does not automatically translate into openness. With open source software, you can inspect, reuse, modify, and distribute software. This fuels innovation in the upstream communities. Openness on the other hand promotes flexibility, interoperability and freedom of choice at the enterprise-level. Openness is a conscious choice that vendors must make to enable open source software to continue to flourish freely at the enterprise level.
SUSE’s ongoing commitment to Open Source and Openness
Emerging technologies such as hybrid and multi-cloud, Kubernetes and edge computing are built on open source and Linux to create new levels of flexibility. SUSE remains committed to working with upstream open source communities to collaboratively develop solutions that meet our customers’ needs first, rather than a single-minded focus on eliminating competition and collaboration.
Our approach to open source is “open source first, upstream first” and our engineers passionately stand behind these ideals as a company. As we develop in the open and publish our code as open source, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the open source community through actions, and not just slogans. As our customers search for agility and choice in their technology environment, we are proud to offer the open source solutions for spurring their next wave of innovation.
SUSE is pioneering cutting edge innovation in the upstream with several projects. This includes Rancher Desktop that will enable organisations to run Kubernetes on desktop machines, Opni which incorporates AI/ML for Kubernetes anomaly detection and Harvester which is an open source hyperconverged infrastructure solution for cloud native use cases. More details about these and other open source projects that SUSE is championing in upstream communities can be found here.
SUSE is also committed to building open source solutions that are truly open and interoperable with other technologies – even those from our competitors. Our customers have the freedom of choice and flexibility to swap out key components from our solutions with similar components from other vendors and still receive enterprise support from us. As an example, the SUSE Rancher Kubernetes Engine supports many other Linux distributions in addition to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. In the same way, the SUSE Rancher Management platform supports many other Kubernetes distributions in addition to SUSE Rancher Kubernetes Engine.
With the technology environment changing so rapidly, our flexible business practices and lack of enforced vendor lock-in are more critical to our customers than ever before. Ultimately, we believe that open source is not a zero-sum game – collaboration and openness inevitably creates a broader base for everybody to build upon.
About the author
Vishal Ghariwala is the Chief Technology Officer for SUSE for the APJ and Greater China regions. In this capacity, he engages with customer and partner executives across in the region, and is responsible for growing SUSE’s mindshare by being the executive technical voice to the market, press, and analysts. He also supports the global Office of the CTO to assess relevant industry, market and technology trends and identify opportunities aligned with the company’s strategy.
Prior to joining SUSE, Vishal was the Director for Cloud Native Applications at Red Hat where he led a team of senior technologists responsible for driving the growth and adoption of the Red Hat OpenShift, API Management, Integration and Business Automation portfolios across the Asia Pacific region.
Vishal has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.