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“Enterprise-Class Open-Source Data Tools” Is Not an Oxymoron


The biggest challenge when adopting open-source tools is balancing innovation and risk mitigation. The tools need enterprise-class features.

Leveraging open-source data tools shouldn’t scare you as an enterprise. Instead, they could hold the key to transferring data into full-fledged insights on a company-wide scale. If a business is going to survive the data revolution, exploring the use of open-source data tools should be high on the list.

Transitioning from the legacy systems of the past to newer, faster tools can be an expensive endeavor. Still, enterprises with the data science talent on staff already could use open-source options to jumpstart the data pipeline. With enterprises needing to ingest more significant amounts of data faster, utilizing the community wisdom of open-source tools could be the foundation for real, company-wide innovation.

The case for open-source tools

Open source may bring up pictures of dark alleys and bug-ridden software, but in today’s data-driven world, there’s a new class of solutions. These open-source tools are the basis for inquiries into the deepest complexities of artificial intelligence and big data, designed around the massive data load we create each day.

The open-source community works fast, addressing bugs, security loopholes, and the simple need to make streamlined tools for real-time insight. Today’s open-source tools result from years of research and a generation of developers who don’t remember a time when data wasn’t the new oil.

Data itself is coming unlocked from previous silos and repositories, existing in a continuous state—data in motion. Leveraging open-source tools allows companies to dream of a reality in which company decisions are data-driven by the second. Every person in the organization has access to the data they need.

Enterprise tools aren’t ordinary data tools

Enterprises must find open-source tools with layers of capability explicitly designed for their unique data picture. These tools facilitate complex governance without creating pipeline bottlenecks. They provide automated documentation of changes, usage, and authorship.

They provide the ability to answer questions specific to departments and scale to the enterprise’s needs. This scale makes open-source tools a valuable resource, making swift use of community wisdom to find solutions and never locking up code in the hands of a single person or team.

Enterprise-level tools must have the ability to pivot quickly as the needs of the business change, global disruptions create new obstacles, and team members come and go. For a solution to work, it must create an agile environment within even the largest enterprise.

Challenges for enterprise-level open-source tools

The biggest concern is, of course, security, both with the tool and deployment within the organization. Enterprises are large enough to house different ecosystems under one umbrella, each with its own unique data needs.

Different groups might use their own tools to experiment and do internal forecasting. However, many aspects of a company’s business operate under strict, complex, and ever-evolving compliance requirements that could cost a company dearly in the event of mistakes. Enterprise open-source tools must embrace these levels of customization to work.

The biggest challenge for enterprises to adopt open-source tools is the balance of innovation and risk mitigation. The solution is not a one-size-fits-all and will require an enterprise-wide audit—a soul-searching to find the organization’s real needs and how that data can fit. The entire process of tool development rests on this balance.

Becoming an open-source enterprise

The best thing the enterprise can do is utilize the creativity of open-source tools with enterprise capabilities already built-in. A tool enhanced with enterprise-level features will help walk the line between innovation and security.

Open-source enterprises recognize that these tools are essential to the process of development—not optional. Open-source enterprises can speed time to market and reduce overall cost while keeping an eye on the ever-present risk of working with big data.

Becoming an open-source enterprise involves:

  • Developing a company culture of innovation. Developers and teams participate in the strategic creation and improvement of new code and tools as a contributor, not just a user or consumer of the tools and code.
  • Maintaining security. Judicial use of code in compliance with best practices flows naturally with a data-driven culture. Continual monitoring and updates are the norms, and a regularly revisited plan for identifying risks is critical.
  • Investing in professional development and training. Nurturing current team members’ talent and interests ensures a steady pipeline of data and development leaders.
  • Breaking down silos. Working with open-source tools gives your teams an outlet to work across departments and even outside company lines. Removing the barriers to data helps democratize the process.

No matter what your enterprise needs are, open source can transform your data culture. Utilizing open source could help your organization realize its own rapid innovation and improve operations beyond what you could have dreamed.

With the right risk management and a clear data plan, your enterprise-level open-source tool could be just around the corner.

Read the other blogs in this series:

Elizabeth Wallace

About Elizabeth Wallace

Elizabeth Wallace is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for data science and AI and a background in linguistics. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain - clearly - what it is they do.

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