The open source software community has been the reason for wave after wave of applications to hit us. What we have seen is a lofty ideal become a standard norm. Close to 90% of organizations use open source software’s and about 75% run most or all of their operations on open source software’s.
It’s a heads or tails situation when it comes to adopting an open source software. There are very compelling reasons as to why you should and a few serious issues as to why you shouldn’t adopt it.
Obtaining an open source version to replace a software package that is being paid for can be extremely benefiting for a company. If you take the case of a small business, operating without the need to pay for a license is a huge differentiator. Massive savings can be made using open source software’s.
With an open source software, continuous improvement is something you can always expect. Bugs are fixed, tweaks are made and updates are sent as developers work on it all the time. Anyone can work on improving the software.
Not having to worry about licensing and installing it on every machine you have is one thing. You can play around with software, modify it and customize it to suit your needs.
Having a software which a vendor designs for a particular proprietary system may pose to be a problem. This is because the software will be compatible only with products from the same vendor. With an open source tool, you don’t have to wait for them to add the feature you have been waiting for. As long as there is an active community, it doesn’t matter if the original founder goes out of business or not.
The fact that it is an open source software may be attractive initially. However, you may incur software deployment and integrating costs. Ongoing maintenance and support costs will also be incurred in due time as well.
Having people with expertise about the software is a must. There isn’t any readily available tech support or properly documented help available. Making the software user friendly isn’t top priority for developers. Additional training may be required to fill the skills gap.
Open source projects phase over a period of time. It may not be wise to be heavily invested in an open source software as updates may stop coming and you may be stuck with an old version, not knowing how to proceed.
The fact that it is an open source product by itself is a threat. This means that it is open for others too. Security risks are a big issue as users with malicious intent can view the code and exploit the vulnerabilities. Companies should take time to assess the tool and try to mitigate the security vulnerabilities.
The pros definitely do outweigh the cons, which is the main reason as to why they dominate the market today. It is extremely critical to analyze these software’s individually and keep the security issues in mind. Many organizations don’t have a formal policy to use open source software’s let alone allowing their employees to contribute. Adopting an open source software should be a fully thought out strategy from ideation to implementation to execution.