When developers think of the word “open source”, they associate it with its free value. On the other hand, if companies are asked about the importance of it, they would say that open source provides them flexibility and control. As a lot of corporate giants make use of Linux and other open source software solutions, it would be wrong to say that it is used merely because of the cost factor advantage. A Forrester Research report, titled Development Landscape: 2013, revealed that 76 percent of developers had used open source technology at some point of time.
So what makes open source so popular? Take a look at some of the advantages given below.
If you use Microsoft Windows and Office, you will need to upgrade the software every year. Also, you might have to change the hardware version if it is needed. Open source software is not that resource-intensive. You can run it even on an old hardware. Moreover, you can decide whenever you want to upgrade it or not without relying on any professionals.
A collaborative effort
What would you rather choose — a software package developed by thousands of developers or the one developed by few developers? Open source software is developed by software geeks who love innovating new features and making security enhancements at regular intervals. There is a number of developers who collaborate and work on improving the software and meet the needs of its users. One of the biggest reasons why people prefer to use open source is because they have contributed to its making. The flip side of collaborative effort is that open source software documentation is mostly poor and unorganised. But developers still go with open source. It happens because of the level of control open source provides on the software.
Not every business works in the same way. Each of them has different objectives, strategies and operations. Business users can take one aspect of the open source software and customise it according to their requirements. As it is an open source, you just need to modify it to add different functionalities. This is impossible with proprietary software.
Provides support options
Using open source opens up your technology horizons to several support communities that are expert at each feature of the software. For instance, Linux has an online community that offers with impeccable documentation, mailing lists, wikis, newsgroups and support chat. There is also an availability of paid support for the companies that need extra assurance. These commercial providers are quite responsive and provide with all the help they can. Moreover, the costs of these support programmes are a way less than what the proprietary vendors charge.
Security stands of utmost importance in any software. This is because it processes, protects and stores the intellectual property of your company. As the codes of open source are publicly available, developers of the community can easily figure out the vulnerabilities and address them in a short span of time. With a closed source software, you need to rely on the vendors to deal. This asks for a lot of time and money to be spent.
Gives you freedom
The proprietary software packages come with a lock-in system which is created by using undocumented file formats, custom protocols and going against established practices and standards. This pushes the companies to upgrade the software or buy a new version in order to access their data after a couple of years. Contrary to this, open source software enables business owners to have a hold over such decisions. They can decide what to do with the software and can get all the help they want from the developers’ community.
Open source platforms are designed with open standards. Hence, it is easy to integrate them with other products. Whereas with closed source programs, vendors decide the type and number of third-party platforms they will support. Open Source Software has standardised network protocols and file formats that enable your company authorities to integrate open source with several different types of applications.
If you want to try using open source software, it may not cost you anything. However, open source is not just about saving money. Most of the enterprises nowadays are adopting it so that they can develop applications swiftly by using several elements. But you do not have to commit yourselves to anything unless you are sure about using it.
It is possible to download an open source software just like you would download a proprietary software. The best thing to do is to start with an open source software that it has a community support. This way, you will be able to consult someone if/when you are stuck.
So give open source a try to decide if it is the right way to go for your business. All the best!