Why enterprise open source is the strategic choice for your learning technology platform

By Lars Hyland

Remember that old adage “No one gets fired for buying IBM”? This essentially described the safe choice of technology, the default position for most organisations.

For some, open source technology doesn’t feel like the safe choice. This is a myth and a falsehood. Why? Well, open source technology already powers a growing proportion of all enterprise infrastructure. It lies at the heart of most of the technology tools you use and take for granted today. The internet could not exist without it.

Indeed, open source technology is moving out of the backroom and moving firmly into the application. Don’t take my word for it. Take IBM’s. They recently bought Red Hat in the largest software acquisition deal in history.

Red Hat pioneered the use of open source software in the enterprise offering powerful benefits - more on that later.

Also, take Microsoft’s actions on face value. They have firmly shifted their strategy away from proprietary practices to being active supporters of open source software, increasingly contributing and opening up their existing software suites, which are used by a significant majority of organisations worldwide.

Why is this happening?

The pace of innovation today, and the demands of doing business are such that it is increasingly costly and time-consuming to unilaterally build and maintain proprietary technology. It is simply unsustainable given the rapid change and uncertainty that most of us deal with on a daily basis.

Still not convinced?

Take a look at the results of a Red Hat Survey of Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) on their views and use of enterprise open source - 69% believe it is either very or extremely important to their businesses. Another 20% still think it’s important.

How is this changing?

Over the past 12 months, 68% said they increased their use of enterprise open source. Over the next 12 months, 59% predict a further increase. Only 2% think it will decrease. The pace of adoption is accelerating.

Why the rush to enterprise open source?

Clearly many more organisations are recognising and enjoying the benefits it brings. The top benefits cited by CTOs are:

  • Lower total cost of ownership (33%)

  • Access to the latest innovations (29%)

  • Better security (29%

  • Higher quality software (26%)

  • Access to enterprise-level support (25%)

  • Ability to customise applications (25%)

This applies across all IT use cases within organisations, including your learning technology infrastructure.

As learning and performance improvement becomes recognised as a critical success factor and differentiator for your organisation, no matter which sector you operate in, your technology choices need to be sustainable and offer these benefits.

As a learning professional, you will increasingly need to engage with your IT department or digital transformation teams.

As evidenced by Red Hat’s survey they will welcome an informed proposal to use enterprise open source as the foundation of your learning technology platform.

Totara’s mission is to deliver these benefits of enterprise open source to the learning technology sector, articulated as four freedoms;

  • Freedom to innovate (you are in control)

  • Freedom to save (lower total cost of ownership)

  • Freedom of choice (a wide selection of enterprise level support)

  • Freedom to learn (empowering you to deliver superior, effective learning experiences)

Why is this so important to us as learning professionals?

Most of us appreciate that learning needs are changing rapidly in response to the transformations our organisations are undergoing.

We are moving away from a status quo characterised by ‘just in case’, reactive learning to supporting continuous ‘just in time’ learning in the workflow. Generic, one size fits all training now needs to be tailored to the needs of the individual and the organisation.

Crucially, control must move away from the vendor and over to you, the customer. This breaks the dysfunctional ‘invest and stagnate’, stop/start experience many of us have endured when procuring learning technology, freeing you to enjoy an ‘invest and adapt’ model where the cumulative benefits of evolving your technology solutions come to bear.

Understanding this underlying technology trend is essential if you are to be in step with your CTO. Remember, these days no one gets fired for choosing enterprise open source.