Open Source describes the concept, by which applications are supplied including its source code. This way, everybody can review and change the code.
A short history of
Open Source is a development approach with its origins in software.
Open Source is all about how to deal with the source code. The source code describes the architecture of the software and how it works. This could be called the DNA of the software.
In order to protect their efforts, many companies hold back the source code of their software, protected by licenses. Unlike Open Source and that is where the difference lies. By the means of Open Source a movement was started in 1998, which recognized transparency as an advantage and heavily influences software development today. A piece of software is considered to be Open Source, if anybody can review, change and use the source code according to one's own intentions. Often without knowing, most computer users these days are already taking advantage of Open Source software.
One of the biggest success stories of IT as well as Open Source is definitely the operating system Linux, which is widely known not only among experts. As a matter of fact most of the infrastructure of the internet is built using Open Source software. Almost every reasonable IT system, be it administration, banks, insurance companies to all the widely used major online platforms, contains Open Source components.
Open Source – one principle, many industries
When a company openly releases its knowledge or software, this is rarely out of altruistic motives. Not to patent the own innovations can result in increased market shares. A released piece of software can give the necessary support to establish an industry standard, through which new profitable business models can be found. An example for this are paid-for accessory tools or services for the ingetration of the software in a company. Everybody with internet access can use the search engine Google for free. Money is then earned through the user traffic by displaying ads. This business model was obviously a success and paved the path to being a world leader.
Another example is the car manufacturer Tesla. As a "first mover" in the field of electromobility Tesla offered most of their patents to the public and made them available to their competitors. Officially Tesla argued they wanted to enable other manufacturers to build successful electric cars as well, realizing to fight against climate change is a concerted effort. But at its heart this is about the fact that one company on their own can't build the complete charging infrastructure necessary. Once other manufacturers start investing Tesla would have it easier to establish electric cars in the market. This cooperation with mutual benefits can be understood as taking care of the Open Source ecosystem.
As a tool for a competitive industry
Open Source offers companies great chances to accelerate and spread internal developments. The awareness of possible consequences however should always be thought through before the release of the code to the Open Source community. That way the specific advantages and disadvantages can be estimated from the beginning. With the risks properly evaluated, the Open Source approach can be the driver of innovations and business models within the own company. Especially, since in the course of digitalization the worlds of IT and automization are coming together, completely proprietary development is becoming less economically viable.
The world of Open Source software is very big and really worth exploring. This is particularly true for the digitalization and Industry 4.0. At the moment there are many new projects emerging and a lot of companies of different sizes and perspectives are putting their focus and ressources here. Together with our partners we want to make it possible for smaller and medium-sized enterprises to make use of this chance as well. We can guide you along the way from beginning to end on this journey. From the selection of projects as parts of your solution, design of the architecture, "Make or buy" decisions, training courses and mentoring, the implementation as well as consulting with the relevant non-technical aspects, like the choice of suitable licenses* or legal questions arising from the usage or release of source code.
We and our partners have always relied on Open Source software when implementing our solutions and actively develop together with other companies in some of these Open Source projects. You can read up about these topics regularly on our blog, where practical examples will be presented as well.
* We want to point out that our website only serves non-binding information purposes and is no legal advice. Legally binding consulting according to your specific situation is only performed by professional attorneys.