OPEN SOURCE COLLABORATION ECOSYSTEM
Open source – software whose source code is public and can be modified or shared freely – is a hot topic in the world of technology development and for good reason. In my opinion, the trend towards open source is encouraging and shows a new, more efficient way of work. It is flexible, affordable and above all else — fast. However, many IT decision makers are still failing to see the value it can bring to a collaboration ecosystem.
A collaboration ecosystem — the network of tools at every employee’s disposal for the means of communicating, connecting and collaborating more efficiently with others — is also becoming an important part of a business’s lifeline. Yet somehow, open source may not even be on the checklist when evaluating a potential hardware, software or service for collaboration.
When considered for its full potential for interoperability, accountability and cost savings, it’s clear that open source can be a competitive advantage for IT and the business as a whole. And if you need any further convincing, here’s what I mean.
In a Spiceworks survey commissioned by Lifesize, 66 percent of IT professionals claimed to use multiple collaboration providers. Since the majority of organizations are working with multiple solutions to piece together a successful collaboration solution, it’s important to note that one of the most important advantages of open source technology is its ability to “play nice with others.” The collaboration market is known for its challenges with interoperability, but as the trend toward open source continues, we will experience better integration between platforms, services and tools within a given collaboration ecosystem.
Possibly more important than making collaboration within an organization easier is open source’s potential to enable seamless collaboration outside of the organization, with partners, vendors or clients. All users should be able to collaborate with the tools they are most comfortable with, and with the help of open source and its tendency for interoperability — it is possible. By enabling teams to leverage the technology of their choice, you empower them to be more prepared, intelligent and productive.
For example, some collaboration products are based on WebRTC, which allows customers to integrate with other products that also leverage WebRTC, including analyzing tools to give them deeper reporting in certain areas than what the original product provides.
It’s also helpful to leverage higher level products, such as the Electron by Github, which uses Chromium to simplify development and deployment of native downloadable applications. This lets you focus on your product’s differentiator while gaining the benefits of the large number of contributors to the Chromium and Electron projects. Mobile applications have seen the same benefit using React Native, which allows you to build once and have it truly run everywhere.
While some within the industry have voiced security concerns, open source is ultimately more secure because it’s “open.” It allows for individuals outside the company to discover issues and concerns before they pose an immediate threat, unlike products that are closed from the public. The large open source community that continuously monitors for and addresses its vulnerabilities on a 24/7 basis makes it arguably more secure than most systems. Accordingly, it provides chief technology officers with the peace of mind that their collaboration ecosystem is secure and open for improvements on a regular basis.
This level of scrutiny translates to enhanced collaboration ecosystem reliability. By embracing open standards you also allow for accountability within your partnerships. Other organizations have direct visibility into how your technology operates and how to better leverage it for integration purposes. If you make changes, you’re immediately held accountable internally and externally.
In the end, cost is often the final decision maker when it comes to new technology. Luckily, your chief financial officer will be pleased to hear that open source could be an additional way to save your organization money within the collaboration ecosystem. By investing in technology that integrates well with others, you not only leverage and extend the usage of existing investments, but also eliminate the need for further investment down the line. Strengthening the value of your existing collaboration ecosystem with open source technology is a simple solution to smarter budgeting.
If you have any doubts about open source, just remember it has already demonstrated its ability to streamline and enhance the performance, interoperability and cost savings of mission-critical technologies. In the conferencing and collaboration space, we can certainly expect to see open source grow in popularity to facilitate a truly unified collaboration ecosystem.
By Bobby Beckman, CTO Lifesize