What started as a geeky moment nearly 26 years ago with Linux in forefront, has now become a large business opportunity. Over the years, the small open source community has grown into a sustainable ecosystem that not only drives innovation but also commercial viability. In fact, today open source solutions have evolved beyond low cost alternatives to proprietary technologies to deliver value-added benefits in terms of innovation and agility.
Globally, the open source services market is projected to grow to USD 32.95 billion by 2022, up from USD 11.40 Billion in 2017 registering a growth of over 23% during the same period, as per a ‘Markets and Markets’ research. While the regional market is at nascent stage, there has been an increased interest in open source solutions over the past few years. Regional organizations have begun to realize the tremendous benefits of open source technologies as compared to traditional proprietary solutions.
Commenting on the state of market for open source in the region, the Regional Director for EMEA East at SUSE, Paul Abi-Chahine says, “Customers need software and solutions that reduce time to market while being cost-efficient. Today, most CIOs in the region acknowledge enterprise open source software as the innovator and enabler for digital transformation of their business.”
According to market intelligence firm IDC, this requirement is further fuelled by data intensive industries that would ultimately leverage open source solutions in their application deployments such as content analytics, cognitive/AI software platforms, IoT services etc.
“Mobility, big data analytics, social and cloud computing are transforming the way businesses are done today. Some software vendors have already integrated open source platforms to add its functionalities on their existing enterprise applications,” explains Manish Ranjan, Program Manager – Software, IDC META.
Open source offers systems integrators and channel partners an opportunity to deliver innovative and technically sound solutions for their customers while driving their margins upwards.
Today, many open source vendors offer products and support that can enable systems integrators to deliver solutions that drive innovation and provide faster business outcomes. Understandably, a robust partner ecosystem will give the open source solution providers a competitive advantage and enable them to provide better customer experience by integrating innovative solutions.
According to Ranjan, having a qualified channel partner ecosystem is important for businesses to thrive in the region. “Open source enables ISVs (independent software providers) and other technology providers to offer value-added solutions in the open source ecosystem and channel can use these technologies to ‘build’ new solutions to cater an industry or requirement in the region,” explains Ranjan.
The SUSE sales-model involves selling through partners. “Hence, channel partners are crucial to our success in the market,” states Abi-Chahine. “With the fast adoption of cloud from private to public and hybrid, we have a strong focus on partnering with cloud solution providers in the region. Our latest partnerships with Etisalat and BPS reflect those customer needs for innovative, more robust and certified software-defined infrastructure solutions for business-critical computing.”
While the acceptance of open source is on the upswing by regional enterprises, availability of desired skills sets still remains a challenge and is slowing down the adoption of open source technology.
Hence, businesses are relying more and more on partners to fill the skill gaps and speed innovation. This opens up another opportunity for channel players who can develop and offer skills at a premium to organisations that are averse to invest in developing in-house resources.
According to Adrian Pickering, Regional Head MENA at Red Hat, in order to combat the lack of skills, the company has invested in its Red Hat Academy programme to equip budding students with the skills needed for a digital future. And, to develop a vibrant open source community at grass-roots level, Red Hat has collaborated with regional universities like American University of Sharjah in UAE, and King Abdulaziz University and Prince Sultan University in Saudi Arabia.
The problems that have to be solved in the complexities of today’s world are too big for just one company. Traditional proprietary vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Apple are making advancements towards adopting open source. Open Source is driving today’s biggest technology trends like digital transformation, big data, cloud, virtualization, IoT etc.
Open source has come a long way from being a cost-effective alternative to being one of the leading options for enterprises looking for innovation. So, channel partners who invest in developing their open source practice and capabilities today will reap huge benefits in the near future.