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February 27, 2015

Q&A: raw engineering on how open source ‘changed the world’

Kurt Collins, developer evangelist, tells CBR what open software is good for.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Kurt Collins, developer evangelist at firm raw engineering, discusses why open source matters to software developers.

CBR: How important is the open source concept to what your company does?

Kurt: The concept of open source software has changed the world. Our platform wouldn’t exist in its current form without open source software. Every day, different components of our products run on Nginx, Node.js, Docker, MongoDB and many other open source technologies. Open source is very important to what we do.

CBR: What are its advantages and disadvantages compared to closed source?

Kurt: While the concept of open source is alluring due to the perceived price tag (free), there are often hidden costs. In particular, the cost of implementing open source can often be more than you bargained for. Just because something is "free", doesn’t mean that the cost of implementing a customised solutions on top of Drupal (for instance) isn’t enormous.

With that said, open source software becomes truly advantageous at scale. Having hundreds, if not thousands, of software engineers around the world working on the different flavours of Linux has only brought more stability to the operating system as a whole.

The fact that many of the world’s largest companies have engineers running Apache on a daily basis and customising it for their purposes is also a huge boon for the security of the software. The many different frameworks out there that have reached maturity are perfect for open source software given the sheer amount of developers using and modifying them.

CBR: Are there any communities built around open source that you particularly admire?

Kurt: The community that Linus Torvalds built was particularly impressive for an early community. However, if we were to look at a community that’s particularly incredible for open source technology today, it would be GitHub. GitHub has become the default community for all open source technology. It’s become a place where every developer can go and contribute.

CBR: What future projects at your company would you consider using open source for?

Kurt: I would consider working with open source technology for nearly all projects if it’s the right fit. Regardless if a technology is open source or not, there still needs to be an evaluation period to understand the requirements of the project and if said technology makes sense for that particular project. That’s not an open source specific process; it’s an evaluation that’s done on a project-by-project basis.

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CBR: How would you rate the future prospects of open source technology?

Kurt: Open source technology is now a part of the technology community’s DNA – it’s not going anywhere. You’re going to see more and more technology companies building their products on top of open source concepts (ie, Docker).

Open source technologies will become the foundation of the Internet of Things (IoT), as open source concepts are already at the core of the Internet of APIs (application programming interfaces). It is going to start taking over the hardware world as more and more things happen in the maker movement. In short, the future of open source is bright.

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