Today, Open Source Software (OSS) plays a dominant role in the IT world. It provides better security, higher quality of code and usually lower costs than proprietary commercial software. According to a survey by CNET*, 98% of Enterprises are using some element of Open Source Software. Gartner further estimates that in 2015, 85% of all proprietary commercial software packages included open source technology. Another recent survey of over 300 organisations by Accenture reveals that more than 50% of the respondents is committed to open source technology while around 28% of the organisations are experimenting with OSS. It is evident that organisations are finding more reasons for using open source technology than just saving the cost of licensing.
The Pros of Open Source Software
Quality of Code – Thousands of talented developers work relentlessly to refine and develop new features in open source software. This results in efficient and high quality code. In fact, a survey conducted in 2014 estimated that 80% of open source software users chose to use it due to better quality. As an example, Linux is widely chosen for it’s technological superiority and security.
Security – Unlike in the past, open source technology is scrutinised very closely by thousands of developers worldwide. Compared to proprietary software security breaches are rare.
Freedom, Flexibility & Innovation – You no longer will be dependent on your vendors’ lock-in, vision, timelines, prices, dictates etc. With OSS, you are flexible to innovate new products and applications out of your chosen software. You will have thousands of developers from across the world easily accessible to help you develop your product.
The Cons of Open Source Software
Open source software may look better than similar proprietary software, however, let’s not jump to the conclusion that OSS is always the best fit for your business. Like everything else there is two sides to the coin.
User Interface – The open source system may be technologically superior, however, not everyone will be happy to use it if it doesn’t provide user friendly interface. If end users are not comfortable with the software, their efficiency will go down and productivity will be hampered. This situation may result in a huge loss for the organisation.
Hardware compatibility – It is crucial to evaluate the compatibility of the OSS with your existing hardware. In certain cases, hardware requires specialized drivers from the same equipment manufacturer to work efficiently. Although there are open source drivers available for free, they may not work well with your specific hardware.
When you need instant and custom support – Open source software users take advantage of community support. When you face a challenge or come upon an issue there are always OSS community members ready to offer advice and share assistance. Even though this response is comforting, fast and supportive you still need to actually do everything on your own. In case of proprietary software, the vendor can provide customized support based on your requirements.
All in all Open Source software may on the surface seem like the better option for your business over commercial proprietary software. However, as an organisation you must have the resources in place to manage the open source efforts matching it to your specific business requirements. Not every organisation has the time or ability to do this. Consider your project needs and business parameters clearly before making a final decision on which option is best for your organisation.
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