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Open Source – a Sign of Things to Come?

Traditionally, change is brought about by ideas, contributions, team work and communities. This is no less so in IT.

Just a few years ago software and applications were seen as magical entities and few people understood how they worked. This lack of understanding inevitably led to problems like users being locked into applications that vendors no longer promoted, even while they continued to collect support fees.

But now, as our lives plunge into the digital, people are more understanding of how applications work and in turn more able and willing to contribute to the science of IT. Today online organisations and businesses have a vision of how they want things to work, they want more flexibility online and are willing to fund the building of bespoke software.

UKFast puts 25 per cent of all resources into its R&D department to develop software and applications. Most of our systems are written in-house by the UKFast R&D community, to the exact specifications that our business needs.

Community is how Linux has developed over the years and with Google opening its speeding the web applications to the scrutiny of programmers we see a level of outsider contribution here too.

Facebook and other social networking sites have allowed third parties to create add-on applications which contribute to the level of customer enjoyment. But what about those companies that charge us for licence fees and bar us from personal modifications – well even they’re on the turn, it seems.

Microsoft has over the past year, donated code to PHP, offered support to the Apache Foundation, and it made its first code submission to the Linux kernel just last month.

There have also been suggestions of more schools and workplaces adopting open source in their organisations to cut license costs. It’s long been part of the battle that the world’s kids are introduced to Microsoft at a young and pliable age – so many don’t even know there is an alternative.

So maybe the future is different. Will we see IT lessons shift from creating a PowerPoint presentation to building the programme itself? I certainly hope so!

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