Free (with strings attached): Keeping track of open source code
Open-source software is free, flexible and adaptable, but lax oversight can obliterate the benefits. Here's how IT is keeping track.
Computerworld - The most attractive aspects of open-source software can also be the most problematic: It's free and it's just a click away.
That means just about anyone in the office can introduce open source code into the company's IT infrastructure.
It's tempting for users to think, "It's free, so no big deal. IT won't be billed for it." But IT still has to manage open-source software -- and that can't happen if IT doesn't know it's there.
"It's never a good idea to have no idea what your engineers or other employees are bringing into the company. The risk might be limited, but if [people start] sucking in whatever they want, there can be issues. Open-source software comes with all sorts of strings attached," says Clark D. Asay, a visiting assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law, whose research focuses on legal issues relating to the Internet and arising from technological change.
Each piece of open-source software has specific license requirements and possible restrictions. At the same time, the software should be documented and tracked to ensure that it's working properly. The problem is, many IT organizations aren't applying good governance practices to open-source software.
"The overwhelming majority of open-source assets used in corporate IT are either significantly undermanaged or completely unmanaged," says Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner.
Driver acknowledges that management of open-source software is improving. He says surveys conducted in 2008 found that 75% of Global 1000 companies didn't have policies governing open-source software. Now, he says, 75% of companies reporting to him say that they do indeed have polices in place, although Driver says these polices aren't adequate.
"When I look at those policies, the significant majority are ineffective," he says, explaining that many require voluntary compliance or apply only to certain parts of the organization.
Yet CIOs face real dangers if they're not properly managing their open-source assets. They could get into legal tangles for failing to adhere to license restrictions. They could expose the infrastructure to security threats. Or they could find themselves scrambling to fix glitches in software they can't quickly identify because they have no reliable record of what it is.
Steven Grandchamp has seen companies face serious problems because of lax oversight of open-source software. "It's proliferated so much and so fast that now you have organizations using it and they don't exactly know what they have or where it is. And if you don't even know you have it, then you can't manage or mitigate the risk," says Grandchamp, CEO of OpenLogic, a Broomfield, Colo., company that helps organizations manage open-source software.
- Five Steps to Achieve Success in your Application Security Program This white paper provides a general framework your organization can use to create or build upon an application security program. It includes guidelines...
- Unlock the Value of Enterprise Mobility Download this guide and learn how to manage the secure deployment of enterprise mobile apps and data, while still encouraging the levels of...
- Rebranded Quadmark revamps its IT solutions with Google Apps Switching to Google Apps halved Quadmark's IT admin costs while achieving 10% time savings per employee. The global consulting firm now spends 80%...
- Manufacturing Outlook: Improving time to market, operational effectiveness and innovation in a highly competitive environment An enterprise project portfolio management solution can help manufacturers position themselves in the new competitive landscape.
- Live Webcast
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior This scientific white paper, using statistical data from Amakai's streaming network, analyzes how changes in video quality cause changes in viewer behavior.
- Service-Enabling CICS Applications: Best Practices This informative webcast provides an informed, thorough look into CICS service-enablement options and how they can affect your environment. You'll learn how to... All Applications White Papers | Webcasts