The Business Owner’s Guide to Open Source Software

The Business Owner’s Guide to Open Source Software

Whether it’s within their embedded systems or as part of an internal IT infrastructure, open source technologies are powering more and more companies. Nokia recently open-sourced its proprietary operating system in hopes of being able to continue to compete in the smartphone market. Netflix is one company that opted for open source technologies early on to help power its operations and it continues to give back to the community. The software that powers Facebook is almost entirely open source and custom-written for its needs. Superpower Amazon.com also uses open-source software for nearly everything they operate.

It’s not just companies – consumers are also moving in the direction of open source platforms. Android Mobile Devices have long been surpassing Apple’s iOS in sales. Part of this success can be attributed to the variety of service providers and Android phones available from multiple carriers. However, it is safe to say that consumers are embracing open source platforms as a reliable and affordable solution for data access and management.

What is Open Source Software?

Open source software is freely distributed, though it can be sold as part of a package. The source code is always included and anyone is allowed to modify it. Modified versions of the code can also be redistributed.

In many cases, when you purchase proprietary software, you are essentially buying the right to use the software in a specific way but not allowed to modify it and redistribute it. Payment is not intended to be optional. Microsoft Word is a great example of this, where you cannot use it unless you pay for a license. OpenOffice is the open source alternative.

How can open source software benefit my business?

Corporate America has been going open source. Here’s why you should consider it, too.

Rapid development:

Open source is an example of a free market in its purest form. Collaboration and community are formed around innovation. Bug fixes are rapid. Developers are easy to come by and software is more reliable, with peer-review keeping releases and updates more secure than the closed-network counterparts. Peer review has become the standard for quality and security for all things digital and it is something that you simply do not get with closed source programming and development.

Affordable development:

Open source means no licensing fees. The cost of development is significantly lower than comparable proprietary platforms. Because of the worldwide popularity of open source programming languages, the functionality you need to operate your business has probably already been created, as custom modifications to open source code are very much encouraged. It’s also much easier to find a developer who is skilled in open source technologies, as they require no special licensing. This can save a business thousands of dollars in long-term custom development costs.

Flexibility:

Open source is nimble, able to respond to needs in the market as they arise, with thousands of developers able to tweak code to custom-fit to any application, no matter how specific the need. Open source encourages innovation because access to the core software is free and can be handled and improved upon by anyone with the talent to do so, regardless of resources.

Freedom to choose:

When using open source software, you have the freedom to select your own vendor, service partners and support, instead of being forced into business relationships with proprietary providers. You’ll be able to find the right people who understand your business and its needs, without being locked into a set of predetermined options.

We develop and support WordPress related products and open source software has been the linchpin of our success. The WordPress platform powers roughly 13% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites on the internet today, including a large number of customized enterprise-class websites. That’s a huge chunk and a testimony to the strength and reliability of the open source community. It’s also one of the main reasons that big companies have been choosing WordPress to power everything from publishing to e-commerce.

No matter whether your company is expanding or cutting waste, growing or trying to find new levels of efficiency, now may be the perfect time to consider how to grow stronger, faster and more secure by switching to open source.