Selecting the right open source software for your product stack

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Companies are increasingly adopting open source software. As a result, it is expected to become a
$50 billion market by 2026. The thriving open source community releases the software and its source code to the public, allowing anyone to use, modify, and distribute the software under a license agreement.

Problem in the selection process

Open source software is used at every stage of software development to meet various business needs. Although several solutions are available for any problem, choosing the right software is becoming more and more difficult.

Typically, evaluation is limited to what the software can do, but ignoring how the software does that or haphazardly looking at a few aspects can create problems such as cost overruns, launch delays, or lead to downtime. downtime in the later stages of the product lifecycle.

Solution to do things right

Therefore, a systematic approach is needed to look at the big picture. This way, you can carefully identify and evaluate functional and non-functional aspects before choosing open source software. Whether you plan to offer it as a standalone application or as a fully integrated part of your product, the following key factors should help you make the right decision.

  • The license is the first factor to consider. The Licence accompanying particular open source software determines whether you can modify the source code, for example, to customize or improve functionality. Additionally, the license governs its distribution to customers with (or without) the source code and credit concerns of the original authors’ work. Finally, the license may also mandate the contribution of modifications to the project.
  • Adequate Documentation and coaching for developers can make a big difference during the first phase of integration and when extensibility and support are required. Additionally, end-user documentation is helpful during training and using the software.
  • Software must conform to company specifications Security policy and be regularly tested for threats and vulnerabilities.
  • While an active community should Support the software, if commercial support is available from a diverse set of companies, it will be a lifeline in difficult situations. In addition, it will also be necessary for certain service guarantees to your customers. Therefore, it is also crucial to check how often issues are fixed and regular updates are provided.
  • Ideally, the existing skill set should work with the new software. If not, find out if training is needed or if the required talent is readily available in the market.
  • How interoperable is the software with your existing product? This evaluation will be chargeable when you need to modify or extend the software.
  • If market adoption is high and a large community is interested in the software, especially if significant players are contributing, then the project
    longevity is more predictable. You don’t want a crucial part to fail mid-flight!
  • You must assess whether the software is reliable enough to resist exceptions and compatible with the security mechanisms built into the product.
  • The basic license may be free, but premium features may only be commercially available. Additionally, there could be
    costs associated with maintenance, customizations and upgrades, which you should evaluate beforehand.
  • You should also evaluate the software for the performance, scalabilityand
    friendliness business requirements.
  • It is better to ensure early that the software is flexible enough to handle unusual conditions and
    customizable according to business needs. These requirements may not exist now, but later, if so, does the software support them?
  • Although excellent software solutions are available in open source, it is nevertheless recommended to compare the
    proprietary counterparts before you decide.

You can use various techniques available to objectively evaluate several options. For example, you can develop a scoring system using appropriate scoring criteria and assign weights to different factors based on their relative importance.

Wrap

In a nutshell, carefully evaluate any open source software before adding it to your product stack. Because the right choice you make today will reward the whole team later.

REFERENCES

  1. “The open source services market is on its way to becoming a $50 billion industry” (2021) VentureBeat, September 21. Available at:
    https://venturebeat.com/2021/09/21/open-source-services-market-on-course-to-become-50b-industry/ (Accessed: August 3, 2022).
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