| by Michelle Nettuno, Category Marketing Manager, Technology at E&I Cooperative Services
We sat down with Rich Savage, Sales Director at Carahsoft to discuss open source software, it’s role in education, and software trends and technologies to keep an eye on in the near future.
What is open source software and why is it important to education?
Open source means its design is publicly accessible, so anyone can share and modify it. The authors of open source software make its source code available and modifiable to others. Open source software brings together the innovation of a community development model and the relatively low cost of maintaining the code base. Academic institutions and teaching hospitals need innovative technology that provides a competitive advantage, keeps up with the changing demands of education, and avoids vendor lock-in.
With open codebases, adaptions and improvements to the software used can be made more easily and quickly, which enables schools to better serve their students. By testing and refining that upstream—community open source—innovation, enterprise open source software is high performing, easy-to-use, and secure. It also typically provides long term cost savings over proprietary alternatives and, in many cases, is free to use.
What is the open source development model, and as educational institutions look to adopt best practices to improve their cybersecurity posture, what aspects of it should they take into consideration and why?
The open source software development model is the process the community uses to develop new open source software. It sets itself apart from the traditional proprietary model through its increased emphasis on intra-team collaboration, continuous integration and testing, and greater end-user involvement. The Linux community has tens of thousands of contributors to the codebase in addition to millions of users worldwide that are able to view the codebase and identify any vulnerabilities. Due to the openness of the community, vulnerabilities are quickly remedied with patches made available to the userbase.
By leveraging an enterprise open source software company like Red Hat, users receive all the innovation that comes with an open source community along with the additional support, training, and services that Red Hat provides.
How and why has open source technology played an increasingly important role as educational institutions continue to face critical challenges like COVID-19?
Open source communities are able to adapt much faster than companies because they’re essentially an open forum for ideas where communities can form around solving a problem or developing a new technology. That same level of increased collaboration and adaptability has enabled schools to respond quickly during the height of the pandemic. And we’re now seeing enterprise open source software being used to help institutions regulate and support COVID-19 testing, tracking, and compliance.
What open source software trends and technologies should educational institutions be paying attention to in 2022 and beyond, and why?
As schools continue to navigate evolving learning trends and technical demands, IT staff members are increasingly turning to open source-based software solutions that support multicloud, cloud native, and IT automation capabilities. Open source supports a cloud smart strategy by helping eliminate vendor lock-in risk and technical debt while laying a foundation for simpler, more flexible, and smart cloud deployment. By using open source software technology and an open source cultural process—where there’s transparency, collaboration, and the ability to iterate quickly— organizations can solve their business problems and adapt their requirements based on emerging best practices.
In parallel, many schools, colleges, and universities are seeking ways to make their processes more efficient and are finding that automation is the answer. With enterprise IT automation, institutions can streamline operations and configurations throughout their campuses. From deploying a new device to moving data to the cloud, automation provides a faster, more efficient process across every phase of the application lifecycle.
Carahsoft Technology Corp. is an industry-leading provider of cloud solutions and related IT hardware, software, and services.