Olivier Thierry is the Chief Marketing Officer for Zimbra.
Recent mega-breaches are forcing IT leaders to rethink their implementations of communication and collaboration solutions. With each new incident, it becomes more clear that the basic communication channels we trust every day, such as email and online chatting, contain vulnerabilities that can expose sensitive information to malicious actors who wreak havoc on businesses and individuals.
In a business climate reeling from these developments, IT leaders recognize that it’s no longer acceptable to blindly trust software. IT must first verify that a communication platform is trustworthy, then validate that any innovation in technology meets established guidelines for security and privacy.
Under more pressure than ever to scrutinize technology for potential security weaknesses, IT leaders are looking to open source as a solution. Transparency gives open source communication platforms the potential for the flexibility, trust and innovation necessary to achieve previously out of reach security standards. Here are three reasons communication platforms need open source to thrive:
Open Source Allows an Innovation Ecosystem to Flourish
When a company’s communication system is rooted in open source software, it can tap into a vast development pool provided by the software’s community members. People can create custom widgets that add incremental value to the platforms employees use. Employees can also help shape the design and future of these tools as community members who are encouraged to contribute and vet one another’s work. This practice allows new features to take root in applications that are grounded in business needs.
Customization Brings More Value to Each Business
Given the tough regulatory compliance landscape, businesses can leverage open source to create custom workflows. They can also use existing platform extensions created by the open source community in order to reduce the complexities of audits and compliance (e.g., email archiving and electronic discovery). Additional workflows can tie the communication platform into business applications for CRM or ERP. For example, tying in chat with an email platform is ideal in product development, support and management systems in which real-time communication is preferred.
Establishment of Trust
Whether it is an open standard, open API or entirely open-sourced software package, the reliance on community participation and transparency builds more secure systems. All software has bugs and vulnerabilities; however, open source offers a larger qualified group that reviews the code. Whether the vulnerabilities are intentional (backdoors and skeleton keys) or incidental, having visibility into the remediation steps will help re-establish trust in the software.
Trust in the application you use to communicate professionally and personally is paramount. And, as technologists look to increase the usability of encryption, end-to-end encryption will become more attainable and elevate the protection of data. This is but one facet that we, as vendors, must tackle to elevate trust across the digital world.
The creativity of the open source community can help software quickly adapt to industry and technology updates. Thus, the community amplifies the pace of innovation and time to solution/resolution. For example, the community can improve remediation times with a temporary fix. Additionally, openness improves software flexibility, allowing for customization and extensibility to create unique solutions that meet business needs and maintain security and privacy. Trust and innovation will play leading roles in the next phase of communication, placing open source software at the forefront.
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