Open-source solutions leading Saudi Arabia’s transformation game

Written by The Frontier Post

Moussalam Dalati

According to Boston Consulting Group, in 2020 alone, over 56 million developers worked on 140 million projects listed on GitHub, the leading platform for open-source collaboration, making over 1.9 billion contributions.
That’s a big number, is-n’t it? Just as the cloud is b-ecoming the centerpiece te-chnology, blockchain the g-ame changer, globally ent-erprise open source is taki-ng transformation by storm.
In fact, according to Gartner’s 2021 Hype Cycle for Open-Source Software, through 2025, more than 70 percent of enterprises will increase their information technology spending on open-source solutions, compared with their current IT spending. The Saudi Cabinet approved in late 2021 the regulatory framework to extend their unlimited support to open-source government strategy and adopted this strategy across all governmental agencies. This digital transformation mandate will boost innovation in business and improve customer experience across the nation in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Open-source solutions are expected to be the secret engine for a high-paced momentum in IT innovation paving the way to economic development and growth, coupled with the country’s aim to reduce its dependency on oil.
It is no wonder that the Saudi government’s transformative overdrive chose open-source solutions to trigger cutting-edge innovation that will redefine the country’s global competitiveness. By optimizing open-source capabilities, the Kingdom can achieve the scale it offers across technologies for industry-specific applications such as website development, cloud management, security, big data and analytics, and databases to name a few. It is also no surprise for us that this is a pivotal subject at the inaugural edition of LEAP in Saudi Arabia. Let’s understand some of the fundamentals to facilitate an informed decision toward adoption.
How did it all start? While the first open-source technology was developed over three decades ago, slowly and surely the technology has garnered support since then. The pandemic, however, was its turning point. Businesses that were not invested in digitization prior to the pandemic struggled to stay resilient due to lockdowns and many other operational challenges. Migrating to open-sou-rce solutions was a sure and speedy way to combat the situation. Companies that implemented the migration quickly realized the benefits and therefore increased their investments in open-source technologies.
Innovation is the biggest reason for companies to ch-oose enterprise open sour-ce. All the recent innovati-ons on the cloud, the Inte-rnet of Things, artificial int-elligence, big data or bloc-kchain emerged or were developed on open-source systems and therefore are considered as the biggest driver of innovation.
Speed and security are vital requirements and top priorities for organizations choosing software today. Presently, the business world is in a hurry to transform and innovate. Time is of the essence and the speed in application developments using open-source technology is second to none. No organization, company or government would comprise on the security of their data; open-source solutions offer high levels of security to their users. Therefore, the e-Government Program Yes-ser and the National Tran-sformat-ion Plan included this in their digital transformation agenda as a trusted and transformative alternative to conventional syste-ms. With a hybrid matrix of legacy systems on-premises as well as on the cloud, it becomes very difficult to change or revamp from scratch, especially with large organizations such as government departments, banks and insurance companies having footprints in different geographies.
Open source provides a win-win situation for the buyer as well as the seller and is clearly gaining prominence in this open world of technology.
Moussalam Dalati
Open source fits perfectly in such a scenario by providing flexibility at a lower cost in mobilizing solutions and application program interfaces from other systems to easily integrate personalization and changes in expectations, making it conducive to innovation and the integration of new future technologies to become the go-to “market hero” for new customer experiences.
Last but not the least, let’s address the elephant in the room: What is the difference between open-source and proprietary software? Is the hype for real?
With the rapid growth of technology, companies and customers are finding it difficult to choose the right technology for their business and operations. While both these systems would work across businesses, companies are faced with this dilemma while choosing project-critical applications. Open source provides more control for companies and their employees to alter or modify their applications when needed, while proprietary software will not have that option. It almost makes the company dependent on the software provider for the lifetime of the application in discussion.
Diver support can be long and tedious in proprietary software compared to open source. Lastly, proprietary ones are typically designed with a limited group of end-users in mind and therefore could become redundant or do not have the needed bandwidth to a-dapt to other new open-sou-rce solutions. Evidently, o-pen source provides a win-win situation for the buyer as well as the seller and is clearly gaining prominence in this open world of technology. Which organizations wouldn’t want to benefit from the competitive gains today’s open-source technologies can offer?

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The Frontier Post