Dubai: Open source software development is gaining some much needed traction as organisations try to find the right mix between innovation and cost efficiencies.

Within the public sector, there is a focus to move away from proprietary technologies towards open source innovations, according to Adrian Pickering, regional general manager for Red Hat, the US software company.

“Governments in the region are looking to open source as a platform for innovation and to tackle digital disruption and delivery services as they go forward,” Pickering added.

The convergence of newer technologies such as for mobility, big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) is another reason why open source is such a hot ticket item these days.

Open source allows anybody to contribute, which means the speed of innovation is a lot faster than traditional methods, where any lock-in stifles innovation and makes things expensive.

As digital transformation and the cloud become mainstream in the Middle East, demand for open source solutions and the skills to make it happen will intensify.

“Even the biggest software vendors have a limit in the number of developers they can employ on their applications for the platforms. That is not the case in open-source technology.”

According to Megha Kumar, research director at International Data Corporation, innovation and open source have to go hand in hand, making it easier to absorb cost pressures.

“A lot of governments use open source and have plans and projects to introduce open source within the public sector,” Kumar added. “In the US, the Department of Defence, General Services Administration are the main promoters for the utilisation of an open source of federal government framework. Other countries are the UK and Estonia.”

In the region, the level of adoption and prioritisation varies considerably, but there are universal concerns and all countries have them.

“Open source is no longer a technology that is limited to education and research only,” Kumar said. “One of the drivers is the lower total cost of ownership and vendor neutrality. Sometimes you don’t want in a lock-in period and want to ensure that you are able to use solutions and utilise your infrastructure the way you want rather than being tied up by a vendor.”