Business Development

The benefits of open source technology for businesses

March 29, 2024
The benefits of open source technology for businesses

Most technologies we take for granted rely heavily on open source software, including GPS, cell phones, and smart TVs. These innovations are built on the backs of people donating their time and resources to the larger developer community.

Open source technology refers to software whose source code is freely available to the public. The software itself isn’t free, but in most cases, the licenses allow anyone to inspect, modify, and enhance the source code itself.

These libraries are usually created and maintained by developers who learn from each other, contribute improvements, fix bugs, and customize the software to meet their various needs.

Open source technology is like a family recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Instead of keeping it a tightly guarded secret, you decide to share it with your friends who tweak the recipe to create their own variations. They then share their modified recipes with others who can do the same.

In software, the code is our recipe; it’s the instructions that tell systems what to do. So open source software provides access to this code, allowing anyone to see how it works, change it if needed, and distribute it to others.

How do businesses benefit from open source technology?

Leveraging open source technology is fundamental to innovation and development. For business leaders to stay ahead of the curve, they need digital partners and developers who understand open source solutions.

Some of the many benefits of open source include:

  • Transparency: The source code is accessible to anyone, enabling us to understand how the software functions and to identify and fix issues.

  • Collaboration: We can collaborate on open source projects, contributing our expertise back into the development community to enhance the software's functionality and security.

  • Licensing: Open source software is typically distributed under licenses that grant us the freedom to use, modify, and distribute the software freely, as long as we adhere to the terms of the license.

  • Customization and flexibility: With access to the source code, we can customize the software to meet specific business needs or integrate it with other tools and systems.

We don’t expect everyone to be fluent in the world of open source software. That’s why, when you partner with a digital product partner like MichiganLabs, you receive:

  • Access to expertise: Our developers are familiar with top practices, tools, and frameworks. This helps us deploy the best possible solutions, customized to your business requirements.

  • Faster time to market: When we leverage open source solutions, we capitalize on existing libraries to accelerate our development process—ensuring a faster turnaround time for deploying your digital product.

  • Security and support: The transparency of open source software allows us to continuously scrutinize the code and fix bugs quickly—enhancing security and reliability.

  • Ease of future maintenance: We use these libraries in a "headless" manner, creating opportunities to swap for better alternatives down the road.

What does open source software look like in use?

Our modern technological world depends on communities of developers creating and maintaining open source libraries.

Popular open source software include:

  • Linux: The foundation for many operating systems, including Android, and also powers a significant portion of the internet—running on servers hosting websites, cloud infrastructure, and networking devices worldwide.

  • Git: A distributed version control system used for tracking changes in source code during software development.

  • React: A JavaScript library for building user interfaces, maintained by Facebook and a community of developers.

  • Bootstrap: A front-end framework that provides pre-designed components and styles for building responsive web applications.

Technology giants like Google, Tesla, and Netflix contribute significantly to open source initiatives, driving progress and accessibility across industries.

  • Google's Android operating system: Android, based on the Linux kernel, is an open source operating system for mobile devices. By embracing open source, Google has enabled widespread adoption of Android across various smartphone manufacturers. This has fueled innovation in the mobile industry—allowing for the development of diverse apps and services and democratizing access to technology worldwide.

  • Tesla: The electric car manufacturer uses open source software extensively in its vehicles. They run on a Linux-based operating system and use open source tools for autopilot features and more.

  • Netflix's contribution to open source: Netflix, the streaming giant, actively contributes to various open source projects. The company developed open-sourced tools like "Hystrix" for fault tolerance and "Spinnaker" for continuous delivery.

Together, let’s develop custom software that improves your business

Open source technology is one way our developers continue learning and growing, so we can serve our clients and contribute back into the community.

You can trust us to seamlessly navigate all these details behind the scenes, delivering as much or as little information as you need to make decisions for your evolving digital product.

Ready to leverage these advantages and stay ahead in the digital landscape? Let’s schedule a discovery conversation!

Nicole Zwiers
Nicole Zwiers
Marketing Lead

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