From a historical perspective, users of IT first paid largely for hardware, then software, and today services. Today hardware is inexpensive relative to its historical cost. Today the real cost of software continues to be well beyond what you pay up front for the licence. Hence the focus is more and more on services applied to the hardware and software. In this opportunity open source software is growing at an exponential rate.
In general computing and business terms, ‘open source’ is a reference to open source software. This is software which is developed and distributed for no licence cost for the actual software, and there are savings in both efficiency and cost that you could be making in your business. You are missing out if you haven't investigated it!
Open Source has been referred to as both a philosophy and a methodology. This blog entry discusses software, the source code of which is available to be studied, changed, modified and redistributed in both the changed and unchanged form.
You may have heard of some of the big brand open source software, for example:
Some of the general advantages of open source software are listed below. Of course, in some instances, specific companies have modified the ‘open source licence agreement’, but as a rule so far as open source software is concerned, the following advantages apply.
Open source software is not the solution for all IT expenditure needs. Even though I am definitely a proponent of open source software, there is the fact that I come from a fairly technical information technology background, having an IT degree and also having run an IT services business.
For the technically unsavvy, it may be a little more user ‘unfriendly’. Some of the disadvantages are:
Open source is definitely a viable alternative to typical off the shelf commercial or proprietary software.
Whilst the disadvantages may discourage some, it is this author’s opinion that the advantages make it not only a viable alternative but a step in the right direction to a more integrated IT infrastructure – particularly for the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
One of the advantages of having an IT and a law degree is it makes it easier to examine and weigh the benefits, advantages, licence terms and features of sofware. It makes it easier to assess the whole of life cost of proprietary software (as provided by Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Oracle and others) versus open source software.
Knowing about this subject is critical when a client's commercialisation strategy depends on the functionality and cost of a new website, ecommerce facility or enterprise-wide software solution. Indeed the competitive advantage for a start-up can be founded on adoption of cheaper, faster or better IT. This was the case for the online travel booking site, Wotif which used open source software as a corner stone for its extraordinary growth as an Australia Web venture success story.