Is open source the key to innovation?

Why talk about it open source; "We can do little alone. We can do so much together, ”said the famous statement by Helen Keller, one of the most inspiring personalities of the 20th century.

Cooperation is a key component of modern business, and over the years, collaborative efforts have led to some of the world's most revolutionary innovations in the fields of technology, medicine and engineering. Opportunities are seemingly endless when people come together to work together.

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But what if this cooperative ethos extends to include almost every human being on earth? Are there restrictions on what can be achieved?

This is the question that open source initiatives seek to answer, as they aim to change forever the way businesses think about technology and collaboration. Without open source, many of today's cutting-edge technology initiatives - from cloud computing or mobile operating systems - simply would not exist as we know them. In the business world, software, for example, OpenStack - a popular, open source cloud computing platform - is changing the way organizations manage multiple cloud developments with new levels of innovation, efficiency and simplicity.

The ability to invite the world to continually improve a product or technology is no longer a dream, and it has begun to happen. Does it preach a new era of innovation?

It will harness the power of collectivity

There are days when developers were working in complete isolation with limited resources. The development room has been opened around the world.

As the source code is freely available to the general public, almost anyone with knowledge - from hobby developers to full-fledged research teams - has the opportunity to play with it, change it, and continue to improve it. As open source projects such as OpenStack gain momentum, the pace of innovation is accelerating and, thanks to growing global networks of experts, products are growing at an incredible rate.

It is fully customizable

One of the biggest advantages of open source initiatives is that if the vendor makes the source code available to the public, users have the freedom to do what they want with it.

Organizations that are not bound by licensing and restrictions - can change the code in any way they wish, adapting it to their unique needs. Soon after they can share this knowledge with others for further development.

It is an unlimited scope of applications

Traditionally, collaborative efforts are limited by restrictions, such as geographical borders. People need to have the same physical proximity to work on projects, and such limits significantly limit their scope.

Open source projects, especially those relating to software, are not bound by these limits. All you need is the source code and an online forum to impart their changes and knowledge.

It can make the world a better place

Some of the most famous open source projects to date have shown that these initiatives can indeed help to improve the world.

In a recent example showing that open code philosophies have been adopted by major industries, electric car maker Tesla has taken the bold step of granting its patents to other automakers (including its competitors) "in good faith." The opportunity it gives the world to analyze and improve Tesla technology can be a huge boost for the automotive industry - and the environment - as the wider adoption of electric vehicles aims to reduce emissions.

The improvement of the world is based on innovation, and cooperation is one of the key ingredients for achieving this goal. Open source methodologies, and cooperation, are an integral part of this global drive for innovation.

The article was published in ZDNetby Harish Pillay.

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