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  •  Open source makes tasks easier for businesses and customers alike.

While open source may be just another tech jargon to you, it has transformed operations for many organisations in the past and can intrinsically bring an all-new experience for your company, too. But what is great about open source for your business? Essentially, it is the ease that brings open source to the mainstream, as it makes tasks easier for consumers.

Technology giants like Google and Microsoft, network operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, and social networking sites like Facebook and Google+, all are using open source to grow in the market.

Unified, profitable model

The original model revolved around open source software alone. But nowadays, hardware and even the cloud have started going the open source way. “It is easier to deploy open source technologies than proprietary ones as these are meant for specific use-cases,” said Anant Kumar, head of product engineering and IT, Bharti Airtel.

Airtel is widely adopting open source developments to expand its position in the Indian telecom sector. Whether it is customer acquisition or optimising the experience for its own call centre agents, the Gurugram-headquartered telco is leveraging open source at all major levels.

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“Open source has helped us build elastic, scalable systems at low cost and hence increase our productivity,” said Harmeen Mehta, global chief information officer, Bharti Airtel. At present, Airtel entirely depends upon open source for its six important projects and has a team of more than 80 engineers to continually monitor and improve its developments.

Substitutes for proprietary solutions

One of the most obvious advantages of open source is its availability as an alternative to proprietary solutions. If you want to switch from Microsoft Office to an open source solution, you can find not just one or two but plenty of substitutes. There are LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice and KOffice to give you the closest experience to Microsoft Office at no cost.

Likewise, if you are looking to abandon your existing proprietary database solution to move to an open source alternative, you have PostgreSQL, MySQL, NoSQL and MariaDB among various other options.

Chandigarh-based Jugnoo, which is among the early open source-adopting startups, recently moved from Tally and SAP ERP to open-sourced Odoo for its HR developments. Co-founder and CTO Chinmay Agarwal now plans to shift the company’s other business processes also to open source.

“We liked the implementation of Odoo for HR, and it will be easy for us to transition ultimately to Odoo for other business processes too,” Agarwal highlighted.

Cost saving

The prime benefit of switching to open source is cost saving. Online travel company MakeMyTrip that handles its online presence with a monthly traffic of over 22 million visits considers open source as an efficient alternative.

“At an optimal operating expenditure, we were able to exercise greater flexibility using open source components on our website,” said Vikram Mehta, senior manager for information security, MakeMyTrip.

Airtel also counts on the efficiency and flexibility of open source. “Preferring open source lets us take control in order to make our decisions smoothly,” Kumar said.

Kumar considers spending on open source technologies virtually puts zero burden. “If we have to take a licensed product, then its cost gets multiplied. You can compare this with any popular commercial solution and get the total saving. It will be in tunes of crores (tens of millions),” he pronounced.

Scalable till infinity

If you want to grow the presence of your company, scalability is the first parameter to consider. But this is something that you cannot achieve entirely with a proprietary solution. You must move to open source.

“Open source technology gives you the freedom to try, test and scale your solution, one step at a time,” said Amit Ranjan, who co-founded SlideShare and is presently working at National e-Governance Division (NeGD).

NeGD has developed citizen-first projects including DigiLocker and Government e-Market (GeM) using open source technologies. This helps the government department to effectively offer its solutions to the public and enable scalability with ease. To date,  DigiLocker has provided access to over a billion documents online. All that came from a small in-house team of around 14 people from diverse domains.

“Our small team is capable of doing tasks that require hundreds of engineers. It is all because of the skills that come from the open source support,” Ranjan states.

External R&D

Among the lifelines of open source, community support comes at the top. “If a project has an active community, it will be regularly patched and improved,” said Bob Canaway, CMO, BlackDuck.

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