Room for Improvement: Areas Where Open Source Can Get Even Better
Open source software delivers a huge amount of value. But it stands to offer even more. Here’s a list of the ways open source can evolve to meet the needs of developers and organizations even better than it does today.
Opportunities for continued evolution and improvement in open source include:
- Source code management. Integrating source code into your projects is easy. Managing it in order to understand which parts of your software stack borrow open source code from where, and when you need to update that code, is more complex. Companies like GitHub are now offering tools to help with some aspects of this process, but more would be a welcome feature for the open source community.
- Security. A fair number of recent cybersecurity fiascos, like DROWN and Heartbleed, have been caused by vulnerabilities in open source code. Perfect security is virtually impossible to achieve, and security flaws haven’t stopped widespread adoption of open source. Still, this is an area where the open source community should strive to do better. It may never be able to prevent all security vulnerabilities, but it should always work toward that goal.
- Embracing open standards. In many cases, open source code alone is not enough. You need open standards to go with it. Otherwise, it is difficult for organizations to deploy open source code with the confidence that it will always be compatible with third-party platforms. In the past, this has been a challenge in areas like the container space.
- Conquering SaaS. Software-as-a-Service is open source’s final frontier. Major Web-based and SaaS platforms that are open source are few and far between. There is no Web-based open source alternative to Google Docs, for example, and no real open source version of Facebook. SaaS is growing ever more popular as an alternative to on-premise and local applications. Open source needs to keep pace. Developments like the open-sourcing of Yahoo’s search code are a step in the right direction, as tools like this could be used to build open source SaaS platforms.