How Open Source is Driving New Innovations in Data Analytics

Businesses use data to better understand their target customers, optimize businesses processes, and maximize their revenue potential. When it comes to analytics, companies have two major challenges: data tracking, and building a link between the data and business intelligence. While there are several proprietary tools companies can use, the field has matured enough that free and open source analytic tools have become an attractive alternative.

What is open source?

Open source simply means that the source code is available to everyone, and anyone is free to access and modify it.  This is made possible through an open-source license such as the General Public License (GPL).

Anyone who wishes to modify the code of a program under the GPL must make their codes freely available to everyone. For this reason, there are no costs involved in the distribution of open-source software.

Open source tools are cost effective

Premium proprietary analytic products can set a business back hundreds of thousands of dollars or more when purchasing a non-trivial number of licenses. For small to medium enterprises, the return on investment does not justify the cost of purchasing such software.

On the other hand, open-source analytics tools are free to use. Additionally, with open source tools, you don’t have to pay for licenses, support, maintenance, and the up-front costs such as training are well worth the cost.

Open-source solutions help address the issue of shortage of data scientists

The open-source architecture is also helping to address the shortage of professionals in the data science space. Leveraging the talent outside your organization through the use of open-source projects makes smart business sense.  With open-source technology, companies can innovate to the fullest potential by collaborating with great minds outside their organizations. Moreover, access to open source analytic allows the budding data scientist to hone their skillset.

Open source tools helps in avoiding vendor lock-in

With proprietary data analytics tools, it is possible to get to a point where you are completely dependent on a specific vendor for their products and services. You are forced to stay with the vendor or pay a hefty sum to switch to another vendor. This is known as vendor lock-in.

For instance, if a tool you heavily rely on has not been updated for a long time, you are unable to compete at the same level with other businesses in your niche. You have to either stick to the older version or in some cases, pay a significant sum to upgrade or move to another provider.

With open source tools, this is rarely the case because change and innovation is constantly happening.  Even if the developer handling the tool decided to move on to other stuff, other developers can continue to work on the tool and improve it.  Open source tools, therefore, assure you of frequent updates without having to rely on anyone.

Open source tools provide flexibility

Proprietary analytics tools come with restrictions on how they can be used. This is especially true for trial versions, which are usually free to use. For instance, you might get a tool that doesn’t support full SQL. This makes it difficult for you to combine and query external data alongside internal data.

Open-source software gives you total flexibility. Everything from how you use your data to how you build up your stack and use your tools is up to you to decide. If you find that your needs have changed with time (which will likely be the case) you can make the needed changes without paying extra for the customized solutions.

Final word

It is hard to deny the fact that open-source software in data analytics is now mainstream. But deploying open-source technology comes with its own challenges. Often times, the technology stack may become a patchwork that requires a broad skillset that not everyone may have, and thusly could accrue more labor costs for an organization in order to find enough experts to maintain and build their stack. Onyx has invested heavily in the deployment of open-source software both on-site and in our research and development lab, so you can be assured we have the talent to help develop, deploy, and maintain an open-source solution that’s right for you.

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