To really be able to answer the question “Why Open Source?” you must have a thorough understanding of the different benefits of open source software that businesses can experience. Today, there are open source office solutions available for almost every common type of enterprise software, from databases and, office applications to application servers and network security.
With many companies and government entities adopting open source solutions, it is becoming increasingly clear that price is not the only reason why open source technology solutions are being adopted. Keeping in mind that there are commercial software vendor solutions for each of the types of open source software, you have to ask yourself “What are the benefits of open source?” before you can determine why open source solutions should be a considered when choosing your next technology solution. So, let’s take a look.
Benefits of Open Source:
1. Quality - Studies show that one of the driving reasons why open source technologies are so popular is the vast quantity of companies reporting to have received desired ROI on their technology investments. The quality of open source software met or exceeded the expectations of 92 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by Forrester Research. Meanwhile, 87 percent of respondents said that open source software delivered the cost savings they were hoping for.
2. Customizable – Due to the fact that the source code is open in open source technology (hence the name open source), developers can create value-added solutions on top of the platform, enabling an easy path to deploy open source-based applications in production. This is an extremely big contributing factor why open source is so useful in so many types of organizations. The fact that everything from technical requirements to user interface can be altered completely changes the game in terms of what is needed for an open source solution.
3. Cost – Acquisition and entry-level costs associated with open source technology solutions tend to be minimal. This allows for more of an organizations budget to be devoted to customizations and innovations, making the solution work best for their specific needs and requirements. The flexibility of open source solutions also allow for other associated costs, such as hardware updates to be minimal.
4. Support Options – The fact that open source source code is freely available online has led to the creation of open source support communities for almost every solution. These communities are groups of developers who come together in their free time to keep track of issues through forums, newsletters, wikis, and email distributions. Because of this, when an issue occurs on an open source platform, companies internal technology experts can quickly and freely seek out the information they need to fix an issue in one of these locations.
5. Security – Many experts within the IT space argue that open source solutions are more secure than their commercial equivalents. Due to the openness of the code, developers and communities can thoroughly dissect every line and API call looking for vulnerabilities instead of taking the word of a sales representative. According to a study by Veracode, open source communities fixed security vulnerabilities twice as quickly as their commercial software vendor counterparts.
6. Interoperability – Open source technology solutions work extremely well with multiple data formats compared to proprietary vendors. If interoperability between other businesses, computers and users is extremely valuable to a company’s main operations, then being limited by the types of files that can be successfully transmitted would not be an ideal work situation. Open source allows freedom in this sense in both how it operates naturally, as well as the level to which developers can modify the code to operate with other file formats and systems
7. No Vendor Lock-In – A huge beneficiary component of choosing open source technology is that companies will not experience vendor lock–in that can severely limit users of proprietary packages. This places users at the hands of the vendor in terms of vision of the solution, requirements, pricing, priorities and timetables. Open source solutions allow for companies to make all of these decisions for themselves, assuring the solution benefits their needs.
These are a few principal examples why open source technology options can be beneficial to an organization. While open source options may not be the right answer for every organization and every business need, they absolutely should be considered.