Over the last several years, cloud-native development has transformed the way we think about software development. To speed up release cycles, build more powerful applications, and deliver superior user experiences at scale, more and more dev teams are embracing this modern approach to software development and building applications entirely in the cloud. 

According to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), there are at least 6.5 million cloud-native developers on the planet today, quite the increase from 4.7 million cloud-native developers that existed in Q2 2019. It’s all but certain that this number will continue to increase as we move further into the future.

With the increase in cloud-native developers, it comes as no surprise that more and more organizations are embracing cloud-native applications. One December 2020 study, for example, found that 86% of organizations were using cloud-native apps.

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Similarly, though enterprises have long been wary of investing in open source applications, that’s all changing, too. According to Red Hat’s 2020 State of Enterprise Open Source Report, enterprises are increasingly investing in open source solutions. In fact, 95% of survey respondents say that open source is “strategically important” to their overall software strategy.

Add it all up, and the writing’s on the wall: If the future of software is cloud-native, it follows that the future of cloud-native is open source. Here are four reasons why. 

1. Community
The open-source community is vibrant, filled with developers from all walks of life who live all around the world. When you invest in the right open-source tools, not only do you gain access to the software itself, you also can leverage a diverse, global community of committed developers who are eager to help you through problems and troubleshoot issues. At the same time, it’s not uncommon for community members to add new features, build new integrations, or conduct security audits looking for vulnerabilities.

On the flipside, open source and open-core companies that shepherd open-source projects experience the same kinds of benefits. Not only can the community help them build a better, more secure, more feature-rich product, they can also help promote it to folks around the world. 

2. Freedom from vendor lock-in
According to the Flexera 2020 CIO Priorities Report, more than two-thirds of CIOs are concerned about getting locked in to cloud providers. 

This is another main driver of open-source adoption. Since open source solutions ship with open standards and full access to source code, enterprises are able to take hold of their own destiny instead of crossing their proverbial fingers and hoping that the vendor’s roadmap aligns with the interests of their business over the long term.

Simply put, open source enables organizations to avoid getting locked into any one vendor — and, by extension, getting coerced into paying hefty licensing fees for the foreseeable future.

3. Customizability
In addition to helping you avoid vendor lock-in, open-source solutions are highly customizable. It’s not uncommon for leading open-source solutions to have hundreds of integrations, built by both the open-source community and the open core company behind the project.

This is a huge deal. No two organizations are the same. Yet when an enterprise invests in a proprietary solution, they aren’t given access to source code and can’t reconfigure the software to meet their unique needs. Of course, some software vendors offer native integrations out of the box. But unless your team uses the tools the vendor supports and nothing else, chances are there will be at least one or two integrations on your wishlist.

When you go the open-source way, you control your own future. Your dev team can build whatever integrations they’d like. They can also fork the entire project and take it in an entirely new direction — one that makes it much easier to meet their objectives.

4. Security and control
In the age of high-profile data breach after high-profile data breach, security is more important than ever before. When you think about regulations and consumer protection laws like GDPR and CCPA — and the resulting potential penalties for non-compliance — the importance of security compounds even further.

There used to be a common misconception that proprietary software was inherently more secure than open source solutions because its source code was hidden from the public and, as such, was harder for bad actors to exploit.

But that misconception has evaporated in recent years. The fact of the matter is that — when you invest in proprietary tools — you’re essentially outsourcing your security stance to the vendor, trusting them that their software is secure.

By providing full access to source code and the ability to configure and extend the software however you like, open source enables organizations to take complete control over their security needs. In today’s day and age, this benefit can’t be understated.

Is your enterprise ready for the future?
Cloud-native solutions are the future of software because they enable organizations to unlock the true promise of the cloud. But in order to truly do that, software needs to be open source. Not only does open-source software give organizations access to powerful communities of contributors, it also lets them build the perfect tool for the job while retaining complete control over their security requirements.

To learn more about the transformative nature of cloud-native applications and open source software, check out KubeCon / CloudNativeCon Europe 2021, a virtual event hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, which takes place May 4–May 7. For more information or to register for the event, go here.