Technology is a great equalizer and the open source movement has played a huge role in making this true and accelerating the process. Open source levels the playing field for many. Gone are the days where you had to get a job or invest to learn a technology. Open source and Linux opened up access and opportunities to learn and innovate.
We live in an era where hardware and software architectures are powered by open source technologies. Modern system architectures (distributed, cloud native and others) are built with open source technologies and many others continue to move to open technologies (open networking, open Firmware, Linux BIOS just to name a few). Open source has been the driving force in commoditizing hardware in many markets. Open communities like OCP are taking this to the next level.
Open source platforms like github and gitlab have promoted open source development and made it easier to build open source communities and ecosystems. Existing open source communities fuel new open communities. Success stories from disaggregated and open server operating systems fueled the open networking revolution leading to the birth of open network operating systems. Investing in open source and having open source development centers are the new normal for companies in this era. This distributed investment and participation keeps the community and ecosystems growing.
So why is open source a great equalizer?
- Democratization of technology: Open source fosters democratization of technology making technology accessible creating equal opportunities. “Democratization of technology” is defined as “easy access to technical or business expertise without long and expensive learning”. Accessible technology leads to faster adoption and increased participation. Gartner put democratization of technology on the list of 10 strategic technology trends for 2020.
- Mass innovation and adoption: Technology development backed by open source is not isolated to an individual. Distributed development model of open source leads to accelerated development and innovation. We all know open source communities result in mass innovation. Gone are the days of isolated locked-in innovations. Innovation is no longer limited to a company or an individual.
- Education: Open source has provided free educational resources leveling the playing field for many. Gone are the days too where you had to get a job or invest to learn a technology. You can pick up any technology today and become an expert at it on your own. This has not only empowered many individuals but has created an amazing talent pool for future technology. Open source technologies have leveled the playing field for employers to compare skills during the hiring process. Employers invest less in specialized training. Employees benefit from retention of skills as they move jobs. As a result, employers have been able to attract and retain better talent with open source projects.
- Distributed investment: We live in an era where corporations and investors see the benefit of open source and are investing in open source development. When you adopt an open source technology, you are not the only one investing in that technology. Distributed investment increases its chances of survival and continued development. No vendor lock-in— your vendors are distributed and you as well as anybody else then own that open source technology as you continue to invest and develop.
- Drives down cost: Participants leverage and contribute. Distributed development and investment naturally reduces the cost of development of the technology. Open source has been at the center of commoditizing hardware and software in many markets resulting in lower hardware costs. By driving down costs, open source helps small businesses. Distributed community support reduces the cost of maintenance of a technology. Open source fosters entrepreneurship with less investment— in fact many new technology companies today are built on and are add-ons to existing open source technologies.
- Birth of new ecosystems: Open source communities fork other communities creating ecosystems of open source software. Open source projects not only make technology accessible, they foster derivatives of work by accelerating development and innovation. Linux ecosystem is the largest successful and thriving open ecosystem today— no single company could have been so successful at building such an ecosystem.
You can learn more about our open source philosophy here and if you haven’t listened to our podcast Kernel of Truth, be sure to check it out. You might recognize one of th— thee hosts! Our latest episode on “Open networking post Nvidia-Mellanox-Cumulus acquisition” is a great place to start.