Open source

10 compelling reasons why you should go open source with your business

Nowadays, open-source software is all the rage. Many businesses and governments have adopted open-source operating systems such as Linux. It has now been made evident that cutting down on software costs is not the only way that you can take advantage of open source software. Organisations started adopting open-source software when the great recession hit, however, the majority have yet to revert back to a proprietary software model even after the recession had passed.

As a result, it is evident that open-source software has numerous other compelling advantages for business owners. This article explores some of these advantages.

Increased security

Superior security is one of the best testaments to the advantages of open source software. Recently, there were several defects that were discovered by tech organisation Coverity in the Android system kernel. These discoveries were made because the kernel code is view-able to the public eye.

That being said, Android is not fully open source. Nevertheless, this still serves as a perfect example of why open source software is advantageous in that regard of security. It is simply a given that with more eyes viewing the code, smaller mistakes are easier to take out, while larger ones are easier to tackle as a group. This idea of having more people view code in order to secure it is actually the exact opposite of the idea of the expensive proprietary products which aim to secure their systems through obscurity.

The absence of flaw reports in closed source codes such as Windows or iPhone is not reassuring at all. In fact, the average tech junkie actually views them as the complete opposite; not reassuring at all.

All this obscurity does is keep the product from public view. As a result, no one outside the company has even a faint idea of how many bugs the software contains. Because these proprietary software companies have a limited number of testers and developers, there is no way that they can get around to all of the bugs and mishaps in the code when compared to a worldwide community that is constantly going over the code of the open-source software.

The great thing about bugs in open-source software is that they are usually immediately fixed. A good example of this is illustrated in the kernel exploit that was discovered in Linux not so long ago.

Meanwhile, bugs in systems such as Microsoft Windows can take months or sometimes even years to catch and remedy. This is easily illustrated by the recently discovered Internet Explorer zero-day exploit.

Higher quality

Some people mistake the extra price tag latched on to proprietary software to be a mark of quality. However, when you think about it, it is actually the opposite. Software that was developed by several thousand developers is usually much more likely to be much higher in quality than a software package that was developed by a handful of developers. These countless developers that are working on open source software are not just working to improve the system, rather, they are adding innovative new features and enhancements at a breakneck pace.

Usually, open-source software advances at a much faster pace in order to give the users what they want. This is because unlike proprietary software, users have a say on what goes into the code. The users and developers work together to create a unified image for the kind of software they want, and progress towards achieving this image. Several recent surveys have shown that one of the primary reasons that enterprises choose open-source software is its technical superiority.

More customizability

Because its code is out there for the public to see and use, business owners are free to take whatever piece of open software they want and tweak it to their specific needs. As the code is open, it is simply a matter of simply tuning the software in order to achieve whatever sort of functionality they want. This kind of customization is not possible with proprietary software.

Freedom to choose

Businesses that go the open source software route completely free themselves from the sort of vendor locking that comes along with proprietary packages. Usually, customers of proprietary software are completely at the mercy of whatever requirements, visions, prices, and timetables the proprietary software owner places. This completely limits the kind of functionality that they can achieve with such products.

In comparison, open-source software allows users to decide on whatever they want to do with the software. The worldwide community of developers and users of open source software are there to help individual users achieve their specific goals using the software.

More flexibility

Once you opt for proprietary software suites such as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows, you are in a constant and vicious cycle that requires you to constantly update the hardware and software needed to run these suites. On the other hand, open-source software is usually much less resource intensive, meaning that it can even be run on the most archaic of hardware. It is completely up to you to decide when you want to upgrade with open source software.

Better collaboration

Another great thing about open-source software is that it is more adherent to open standards that proprietary software. This means that you can collaborate with other business’s computers and users using open-source software much more easily than you would have been able to use proprietary software. If you are looking to set up a wide area network, for example, open-source software is definitely the way to go.

More confident audibility

When you go for proprietary closed source software, only have the vendors’ claims to reassure you that the software is adhering to standards and secure. In most cases, this can be a giant leap of faith. On the other hand, by using open-source software, you can see the code for yourself and rest assured that the software is indeed standards compliant.

Better support

The great thing about open-source software is that generally, it is free. As a result, there are several helpful communities that revolve around every single piece of open-source software. For example, most Linux distributions have online communities with forums, documentations, wikis, forges, mailing lists, newsgroups, and sometimes even live chats via IRC.

This is excellent for businesses that want that added dose of assurance the extra support options that come on open source packages. The prices for this extra support are still far less than the costs of even the most basic kinds of support for proprietary software. In addition, open-source software commercial support is usually much more responsive as this is what their revenue model has usually focused around.

Lower costs

In addition to the purchase price of open-source software, there are several other costs that you need to take into account when buying proprietary software. Things like ongoing upgrade expenses, virus protection, support charges, and costs associated with your inability to advance the software any further on your own can take quite the toll on your business. On the other hand, you can get a great deal more quality at just a fraction of the price using open source software.

The lemon law

If a certain piece of open-source software has caught your eye, in most cases, it will cost you absolutely nothing in order to take it for a test run first. This is particularly true for distributions of Linux that come along with live CD ROM. There is no need for you to commit whatsoever until you are absolutely sure that you cutiliseize said software.

All this is not necessarily a reason that your business should adopt open-source software as its saving grace, but it is still a good idea to look at the grass on the other side of the fence every once in a while.