Digital transformation has become synonymous with leading Middle East nations’ road maps.

As the UAE and Saudi Arabia establish pathways for leveraging technology to make smart city visions a reality, the region’s enterprises and IT leaders are on the cusp of opening up to the most disruptive digital transformation movement yet: enterprise open source innovation.

Globally, Linux-based expenditure is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 12.9 per cent over the next five years. This is concurrent to enterprises’ needs for cost-effectiveness, flexibility, reliability, agility, and security. Surprisingly, only 37 per cent of companies globally have open source programmes to establish organisational processes, best practices, and toolsets for how open source is adopted.

This shows there is room for growth towards the adoption of alternative foundational systems to drive innovation.

Wide acceptance

As a movement and an emblem of the future of IT, open source is being used in a growing number of leading businesses in sectors as diverse as telecommunications and health care, to financial services and defence. With a majority of global IT leaders and enterprises observing enterprise open source as an important element of organisation strategies (89 per cent), 68 per cent of IT leaders reported an increase in use of enterprise open source over the past year, with a further 59 per cent of IT leaders noting they plan to increase their use.

Enterprise open source solutions are becoming sought after for their effectiveness to fuel IT infrastructure modernisation, application development, application integration, digital transformation, and application modernisation.

Disruptive tools lead to disruptive ideas. As a bridge between open source communities that create open source software and the enterprises who use it, Red Hat’s a major advocate for open source environments to create ecosystems that redefine the way applications are built in the open hybrid cloud.

States’ push

With the launch of national agendas to drive digital economies, countries in the region are cultivating opportunity by opening up to open source endeavours. In the UAE, the leadership is actively promoting innovation and fuelling knowledge sectors through support for incubators, start-ups, and fintechs.

Additionally, the UAE government has created an open data policy under mandates such as Vision 2021 and Dubai Pulse to ensure that seamless and transparent data exchange is accessible to different entities to improve information flow for the creation of new products and solutions. In addition to these, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the “One Million Arab Coders” initiative — an educational platform to empower young Emiratis with coding and programming skills geared towards achieving a digital economy.

In Saudi Arabia, e-Government programme, “Yesser”, and the National Transformation Programme (NTF) is highlighting the need for open source initiatives.

The cloud factor

Regionally, IT leaders and enterprises are optimising open source capabilities to achieve scalability of cloud, big data and analytics, the internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and blockchain. The business value of open source is enabling enterprises industry-specific applications such as website development, cloud management, security, big data and analytics, and databases.

While more can always be done to shift mindsets and enlighten enterprises on the benefits of open source, the blueprint to open source is creating a foundation for innovation and digital transformation through open source culture, open thinking, open technology, and open solutions ecosystems.

The open source way is the future for the Middle East, and we are proud to be a vital part of the equation.

Ali Al Shami Country Manager for Saudi Arabia at Red Hat