Open Source software has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1950s to the truly state of the art systems we see today. These systems are being used in practically every industry imaginable, from defence to life sciences and from food to petro-chemicals. In fact, chances are that the smart phone you use today has open source software running on it. Android (Samsung, LG, HTC, Nexus) is open source and is the market leader with iOS (Apple) a close second. But did you know that iOS is also built on open source software (UNIX)? The only difference is that one system is proprietary and the other is an open platform and freely available. So how can a number of enterprise systems be based on open source technologies yet their vendors continue to charge hefty fees for the use of that software? Is it an attempt to lock in customers and to make it difficult for customers to switch to other solutions? There may be many reasons, but the reality is that despite the attempts of vendors to lock in customers, open source software continues to gain momentum and if you are considering to implement an enterprise system for your organisation then here are the top 5 reasons why you should include software built with open source technology in your evaluation.
- Price. This point is quite obvious. Most open source software do not charge any fees hence there is an obvious cost savings for the business.
- Control. The underlying source code of the software is open and can be changed to suit the needs of the business. Proprietary software is closed and any changes would in most circumstances violate any relevant license agreements and void warranties.
- Flexibility. Businesses can decide whether to upgrade their software or not based on the value offered in the upgrade. With proprietary software if you don’t upgrade frequently you may lose all support or future upgrades.
- Talent. Businesses have access to the finest talent in the industry lending their support to the open source initiative. Furthermore, the open source community continues to grow rapidly and various certifications and training programs exist to help set standards and thus making acquisition of talent more reliable.
- No lock in. Open source software is provided with no strings attached and written with widely used standards which allow communication and migration to other systems straightforward. Proprietary systems are designed to be incompatible with other systems so that businesses are “locked in”.