Having read how big business and Public organisations are choosing the cost and flexibility of Open Source software – such as Linux – over non-free or “proprietary” programs (like Microsoft Windows) many companies are curious to discover how adopting an Open Source system could enhance their operation.
Some managers wrongly believe that Free or Open Source software costs nothing. However, the ‘free’ refers to freedom – not price – and should not be confused with freeware.
“Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom. As opposed to proprietary programs that dominate the computing world with the developer controlling the program, and ultimately the users.
With Open software, the users have the freedom to…
- access the source code
- run the program for any purpose
- study how the program works, and change/modify it so it does your computing as you wish
- distribute copies of modified versions to others, giving the whole community a chance to benefit from the changes
…without having to ask/or pay for permission to do so. The users (both individually and as communities) control the program and what it does for them.
ADVANTAGES OF FREE AND OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE FOR BUSINESS
The benefits of, say Open ERP or Open Source CRM include:
When your business uses proprietary software such as Microsoft Windows and Office, you are locked into upgrading both software and hardware. Whilst Open Source software, is typically much less resource-intensive so it can run well even on older hardware. It’s up to you to decide when to upgrade – a great advantage to cash-flow.
Whilst proprietary software packages are created by a handful of developers, Open Source software is continually developed by its users – sharing their experience and innovating to improve the functionality; introduce new features and enhancements; and strengthen security.
This technical superiority is the primary reason many choose Open Source software.
Business users can take a piece of Open Source software and tweak it to suit their exact needs. Since the code is open, it’s simply a matter of modifying to add the functionality required.
With the increased adoption of Cloud Computing, Open Source is better than proprietary software at adhering to open standards. In practice, if you need interoperability with other businesses, or integration with other technologies; computers and users, Open Source software won’t limit you to proprietary data formats. Perfect for supply chain applications.
With closed-source software, we rely on vendor’s claims they’re keeping the software secure and adhering to standards. The visibility of the Open Source software code means you can confidently see for yourself and address the risks.
With Linux, users do not usually have “root” privileges and are typically given lower-level accounts. This means that should the Linux system be compromised, the virus won’t have the root access it would need to do system wide damage. Just the user’s local files and programs would be affected. The difference between a minor annoyance and a major catastrophe in any business.
The proprietary software purchase price usually involves mandatory virus protection, support charges, ongoing upgrade expenses and the costs associated with being locked in.
It is important to note that some FOSS licences may attract a cost; and there maybe restrictions surrounding distribution. However, adopting Open Source frees you from the proprietary lock-in that that dictates prices, priorities and timetable. Plus, limits what can be done with your system.
Open Source software is generally free, and offers support through the vibrant communities surrounding each piece of software. E.g., most Linux applications have an online community with excellent resources and even live support chat.
For the less IT sophisticated paid support options are available at prices below what proprietary vendors will charge. Plus, as support is where their revenue is generated, the Open Source commercial support providers tend to be more responsive.
Want to Know More?
Free Software Foundation
Or, contact Principality Consulting to explore how these packages can help make your systems and processes more effective; plus reduce your IT costs.