Charles Forsythe, Director of IT Solutions at SuprTEK’s Solutions, Engineering & Delivery (SE&D) business unit in O’Fallon, IL, was recently invited to be one of four expert panelists discussing Open Source Software (OSS).  The event, “How to Scale Your Business with Open Source Technology”, was hosted by Object Computing Incorporated (OCI) through the Cortex Innovation Community and the St. Louis Innovation Hub.

The panel began with a brief presentation by OCI providing an overview of OSS applications in the business world.  Then each panelist described why they incorporated OSS into their operations, and how it proved to be a “game-changer” for their business.  Next came a Q&A session where the panelists, who also included representatives from technology leaders such as Maritz, RGA, and bioMérieux, answered questions and responded to comments and concerns from attendees.

The audience included delegates from the Department of Defense (DoD).  The DoD has reservations about including OSS in its architectural runway, and was looking for more information and alternative viewpoints. Mr. Forsythe was able to provide the DoD with this information, as he is focused on debunking the misconceptions surrounding OSS and cybersecurity.

The DoD’s chief concern is security risks, which has led to a high level of caution in switching to OSS due to its community-based nature.  A primary apprehension is that since open-source code exists in the public domain it could be more vulnerable to hackers.  In response, Mr. Forsythe explained this logic doesn’t necessarily apply.  OSS can be just as secure as the DoD’s commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, and perhaps even more so.  Because it is community-based, OSS can be patched and updated more quickly and effectively than COTS.  The result is software that can be improved more frequently with no additional cost.  These attributes are great examples of why OSS should be a viable option for the DoD.

Mr. Forsythe described participating in the panel as an engaging event with attendees very focused and interested in the subject matter.  Thanks to effective moderation, the panelists managed to confidently answer everyone’s questions.  Overall, the event was deemed a success.  As for the DoD, time will tell if it decides to implement OSS.  Whatever its decision may be, it will be a well-informed one due to the information presented at the panel.  Mr. Forsythe’s experience and understanding of the software provided the audience with useful information about OSS and how it can be utilized.

Nathan Reames is a Junior Technical Writer with the ADEV program.