Trying to choose between open source vs proprietary software? You’re not alone. When looking to increase the productivity of your company through the integration of technology, you may have come to a crossroads where you are comparing a lot of very similar services. Some of these services advertise themselves as “open source,” but what does that really mean?
Below we explain what open source technology is and why you should consider it for your business.
What is open source technology?
As opensource.com explains, open source technology “is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.” Additionally, it’s designed to be publicly accessible. This means that open source technology can’t lock your data, information, or code away in a place you can’t access it.
What are the benefits of open source technology?
So, why would your company want to utilize open source technology? When looking at the many benefits of open source technology, its hard to beat its price. Many open-source options are free, or nearly free in comparison to the cost of proprietary technologies. Being able to save money on open source software allows you to put that extra money into something else that your company needs.
One of the main benefits of open source technology, however, is that it’s highly customizable. Because there are so many open source libraries of free code you can access, you can always add the features that you need. If you don’t have a particular feature that you need to be successful on a future project, you can simply add it to what you are currently using.
Finally, open source provides your company with scalability: you can expand what you currently do quickly. If your company gets bigger and offers more services, open source technology can grow with your company as needed — and without a giant price tag.
Open source vs proprietary technology
The other side of the coin is proprietary technology. Proprietary technology is “commercial software that can be bought, leased or licensed from its vendor/developer.” Essentially, if a piece of software doesn’t say it’s open source, then it isn’t. A company owns all its code, content, data, and possibly a good chunk of any of your information you’re storing on it. It all depends on the license you agree to when using it.
Remember all those user agreements you clicked on when signing up for the apps you use on a daily basis? All those agreements granted companies various types access to your personal information, including for the purposes of personalized marketing and other invasive forms of data mining.
The Lure of Proprietary Software
You might be asking yourself: if open source is so great, why are most products proprietary? In a word: money. The top open source companies in the world (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, Zimbra, Zabbix, etc.) make plenty of money, but nothing compared to a giant like Google or Microsoft. That’s really the only reason to make a product proprietary: to make more money off of it!
And because of this, the vast majority of software available to businesses is proprietary. And we’re so use to this fact, that we don’t question it. We just pay our licensing fee and go on with our lives.
Free Doesn’t Mean Without Expertise
At the same time, just because open source technology itself is free or low cost, doesn’t mean you don’t need help getting it installed, configured, or developed. Just like any tool, it needs to be customized to your needs. You need a partner who is skilled at adapting open source technologies to your business needs.
The Choice Is Yours
Ultimately, the decision of which technologies your business decides to utilize is completely up to you. There are definitely good reasons for going with proprietary technology. If you want lower cost and greater customization, however, the choice is clear.