Let’s take a closer look at how open source technology can benefit your company in 2019.
Firstly, what is open source?
Open source has been all over the news lately.
AS IBM recently acquired Red Hat, and Microsoft followed up by acquiring GitHub, it appears that all the big tech companies out there are either buying or developing open source technology. But what exactly is it? And how can you get a slice of the cake, too?
In short, an open source software comes with full access to the underlying source codes. This means that you can have your developers optimise and enhance the software solution to fit your needs and requirements a bit better. In our comparison of Licensed Software vs Open Source, our software experts defined the latter as a “software distributed under a licensing agreement which permits the code to be shared and edited by other parties. This means that anyone who knows how, can use and modify open source software completely free of charge”. This sounds rather good, right?
On the other hand, you have licensed software. This means that you can only buy access to the finished product, but you can’t view the source code as it’s considered the intellectual property of the company.
So, have you ever used one of the following services?
- Linux Operating System
- Mozilla Browser
- FireFox Browser
- Apache Web Server
- MySQL Database
These are all examples of highly popular open source software available to the common user. In addition, you’ll also find that companies such as Amazon, IBM, Wired Magazine and Google are all known for using open source technology on their platforms.
In conclusion, open source offers a way for companies to collaborate “around shared needs on a product that none of them could achieve alone”, as it states on OpenSource.org. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some open source business advantages.
Read More: Choosing Open Source CRM.
Open Source Business Advantages
These days, there are few modern businesses that choose to shy away from open source technology. So, what are the main benefits of open source software for businesses?
Security is a concern for many businesses today. And acquiring open source software, where the source code is open for anyone to edit, might sound like a really bad idea.
However, this is an unfounded concern.
The availability of the source code is actually the greatest advantage of open source technology. Due to the source code being accessible, developers can locate and fix bugs must faster than in commercial products. With the code being open to the public, it makes the so-called “Linus’ Law” possible. This rule, named after Linux creator Linus Torvalds, claims that “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. This is the mantra of the open source movement.
With open source software, you are likely to receive a higher quality than with a licensed software. This is simply because it has been created by thousands of developers worldwide, all of them with a wide range of experiences, talents and focuses. All of these developers work to optimise various parts of the software, meaning that you can benefit from increased security, enhancement and optimisation of existing features, and new innovative features and tools.
While traditional software developers provide what they think the customer want, open source developers add what they think the software needs in order to be better. This is probably the reason for why most businesses reports that “technical superiority” is the main reason for why they choose open source software.
Another great benefit of open source software is the increased flexibility. As a business acquires an open source solution, they are also avoiding the vendor lock-in that normally applies with licensed software. The lock-in means that your business is forced to follow the software provider’s requirements, priorities, updates and prices.
There is also no need to worry about your hardware. For the many OS developers optimising your software, the source code itself will always be their main concern.
A World of Support
As open source software is free, so is often the basic support options that come with it.
The OS communities are incredibly active online, meaning that there are often excellent support options available for your IT team free of charge, such as forums, live support chat, and documentation.
If you have limited IT resources available in your organisation, you can also benefit from paid support options by many talented open source developers. This support can often be more affordable than support offered by the large companies.
Software is rarely affordable. In addition to the monthly licensing fee, you will face additional costs such as
- Virus protection
- Support charges
- Upgrade expenses
- Additional licensing fees for new users
Most open source project often comes with no fees attached. Additionally, you won’t need to break your budget every time a bug is fixed, or a new upgrade is available.
What are Open Source Vulnerabilities?
It’s not always easy to deploy open source software – especially not if you’re used to running on licensed software. There are indeed some disadvantages of open source, such as:
If you’re used to the customer support of licensed software companies, you might find open source software a bit more frustrating and time-consuming. A lot of open source support is based on a DIY approach, meaning that you go through documentation and forums online and find a possible solution yourself. Otherwise, you can reach out to open source developers privately and acquire their services for a fee. In any way, it may prove challenging to receive commercial-grade support within a specific timescale.
Difficulty of use:
Recent studies reveal that many find open source applications challenging to set up and use. This can often be due to their lack of dashboards and other use-friendly interfaces. In a worst case scenario, it can “affect productivity and put off your staff form adopting or using the programs with ease.”
Issues with compatibility:
You might find that your hardware requires specialised drivers in order to run certain open source software. This can add to the cost of your software.
Whatever you do, don’t let the disadvantages scare you. Open source software can be an incredible asset to your organisation in 2019. While some people believe that trustworthy software can only be created by big names located in California, it’s time to realise the value of the thousands of developers worldwide contributing to open source solutions.
Open Source will only continue to expand and increase in popularity over the next few years, as more and more businesses are starting to adopt the software solutions and applications. As David Howell concludes “Open source is about collaboration and community. (…) you’re entering a rich innovative environment that your business could play an active role in.” Here at YourShortlist, we can’t help but agree.