Back in the days, software was supplied to customers in CD-ROMs and floppy disks. One had to get hold of either of these storage devices from the manufacturer and then install the software on their personal computers. But times have changed! Today, all you need is a good internet connection, and you’re good to go. Even the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications can now be downloaded from a server, installed, and activated using a unique key.
Because of this connection between the manufacturer and the user, the software can be updated continuously. This creates what the industry has dubbed as a software supply chain. Since the product being delivered is the program free to download, and the good is the code, which is used to activate the product, the supply process should be comparatively easy. The fact that there are no warehouses involved or even transportation headaches make many people think that the whole process is a walk in the park, but it’s not!
A software supply chain can be very complicated, especially for beginners. As such, you need to find ways to learn the ins and outs of your software supply security and every other-related aspect. Still not convinced? Continue reading to learn some more reasons why this knowledge is significant for developing both your business and as an individual.
1. There is More Than Meets the Eye
One reason why you’ll need to learn and understand your software supply chain is that it involves more than what you just see from the outside. Apart from its unique set of tools, procedures, and workforce, many activities still need to be managed. The fact is that most of these things are easily forgotten by business owners, perhaps because only experts can trace them.
However, it’s pretty essential to have an understanding of what’s going on beyond the obvious. Having insights into the details gives you an upper hand in your business’s management process. You’ll be able to make decisions knowing the consequences rather than just relying on what your employees suggest. Therefore, if you haven’t done it yet, make sure you sit down with one of the employed experts and let them take you through the whole of your software supply chain.
2. Individual Decisions Have a Wide Impact
What’s open-source software (OSS)? This is an application that a developer chooses to distribute with “read and write” codes. That means anyone who has access to this software can modify it to meet specific needs. Most applications usually have one or more open-source components.
Some of the rules set by the OSS community are that such applications must be freely available, include a modifiable source code, and have no restrictions for redistribution. How does the developer benefit? Most people opt to distribute their software in such a format to allow for quicker repairs and the development of high-quality applications.
Of course, it may seem straightforward, but the issue of OSS is sometimes complicated. Remember the source code you distribute may contain some crucial information. Therefore, a decision by a programmer or a group of developers can easily pose considerable risks to your business. The courts understand that a breach of the OSS license may lead to IP infringement, but it’s not clear whether it can be categorized as a breach of contract.
There are many cases where a company has faced software-related risks after distributing its source codes. Learning about your software supply chain will help you understand your specific scenario and handle any legal issues that may arise in the future. It’s worth noting that every OSS component should have a license attached to make things easier in case you find yourself in a legal fight.
3. Free but Chargeable
Free but chargeable; quite confusing, right? Well, that’s one more reason why you should get hold of an expert and learn the ins and outs of your software supply chain. A company may provide a set of source codes that you can edit and modify to fit your needs. However, the original developer may attach financial restrictions to go with their software applications.
For one, they may decide that the OSS is only free if not commercialized, and if one decides to sell, then they must adhere to the provided rules. For example, if you’re planning to redistribute such software, you might be compelled to send a percentage of your sales to the source code owner. This is a common occurrence among companies that have already rolled out another version of this software as a commercial product.
4. You’ll Have an Idea of Related Implications
As already seen, different developers have the opportunity to incorporate their ideas into your source code. But as the owner, you ought to understand all the implications of such actions. You can only have an idea in this area if you’ve studied and understood your software supply chain.
Some of the things you need to focus on are the third-party tools used by the developers and how they’ll affect the customers. Will such actions affect the company in the future?
Once you’ve assessed the obligations and risks, it’s also recommended that you carefully go through the open-source licenses and their implications. Who will be responsible for the risks posed or any breach of license? For instance, take the KODI media player; it’s legal open-source software, but the addons you install on it can compromise its legality and safety.
The software supply chain is thought to be a simple and straightforward system, but it involves many economic and legal regulations. Whether you’re a developer of open-source or commercial software, you ought to adhere to the respective laws of the industry. Understanding your software supply chain will help you decide on the best actions to take at any given time. It gives you an idea of how the consumers should use your software, especially if it’s an OSS. Remember, the distribution of your source code can make or break your business; so, be sure to revise all the relevant open-source licenses before embarking on the distribution process.