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The Growing Business Case for Open Source

In the Information Technology (IT) and software development fields, there are a few fairly common misconceptions about the use of open source

Open Source software is the basis for most of today's Internet's infrastructure. Many of the common Internet services, such as web servers and E-mail, have their roots in Open Source software. 64% of web servers on the Internet run the Apache Open Source web server software. 70% of Internet E-mail travels through Sendmail, an Open Source E-mail server, and the list continues...

Cost

Open source software can be obtained and used with little to no upfront costs. You only pay for the support you actually need, and most importantly only when you need it. This becomes more significant as your business expands or additional features or integrations are required.

In actual fact open source software is found in nearly every area of today’s IT industry and can complement proprietary legacy systems to substantially reduce costs and generate business revenue.

The biggest difference between Open Source and the software you are used to purchasing is that you are given access to the underlying "blueprints" or source code of the application.

 

In typical commercial software you are not allowed to see this recipe. It is the company's intellectual property and is a closely guarded secret. Right about now you are probably asking yourself, "But I'm not a programmer, nor do I want to become one. Why do I care if I have access to the source code?". Surprisingly enough you and your business should care for several reasons. Here is short list of the major reasons it is an attractive choice for businesses:

Longevity

When a commercial software company goes out of business you lose all your support, bug fixes, security patches, and possibility of future versions. If a piece of software you use is critical to your business, and is Open Source, you can simply contract with a consulting firm, individual programmers, or other third parties.

Security

In short, licensing models have nothing to do with security. If anything, OSS allows for development teams to rapidly address any security issues, whereas proprietary systems must rely on the software vendor to get around to issuing an update or patch. Additionally, open source projects benefit greatly from having a diverse community that is interested in the development of the solution, not just one vendor. This allows for things like peer review from a base of knowledgeable and expert supporters.

Maintaining Control

Using Open Source software enables you to be in control of your business. Unlike commercial software you can be the master of your own destiny.

Flexibility

Open source software is licensed in a manner that enables your business to modify it yourself or hire a third party to modify it to suit the specific needs of your business.

Support

With open source software, a business can always bring in an independent third party for support and consultation, rather than having to wait for the proprietary vendor to get around to addressing a particular issue they may have. Additionally, businesses have the freedom to develop in-house capabilities as well as relying on the development community for support.

Reliability

Open source software is developed in such a way that it is typically more reliable (i.e. fewer bugs) than software which is developed using a standard commercial development method. If we look at Unix and Linux as an example, some of the biggest organisations and companies in the world, for instance Google, Facebook, NASA, US Department of Defence, both London AND New York Stock Exchanges, BMW, etc., rely on Unix and Linux to run their servers.

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