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Should Your Business Be Using Open Source Software?

By October 29, 2015 4 Comments

It was once so easy to shut down the open source conversation. A single well-placed question from a long list could do the job. Who knew where the software came from? What backdoors had been built into it? Why would developers continue to support something for free?

Today, a well-placed question is all it takes to get the conversation started, although it might be an uncomfortable one for some. Here are eight places to start.


Not everything should come down to price, but it is not a bad place to start. Open source tends to be cheaper and have more potential to start small and scale up when you need it.


If you are a big customer of a closed shop, you might have a say in the direction the software takes. If you are not, good luck. With open source, ideas are more likely to win on merit, and because you have direct access to the developers it's easier to make your case. (You can even contribute the code yourself if you are that way inclined.)


Moving onto a major proprietary platform takes time. Starting small and making changes as you go (and need more) is easier with open source.

Open source is more transparent

The clue is in the “open”: you do not get to see the source code of proprietary software. Also, you are not party to or able to see all the discussions that go into making decisions about the software. In the open source community, all that laundry is airing out there for all to see.

It’s where (more of) the clever people are

Major open source projects have many more of the best minds working on them than is possible in a closed shop, even if that closed shop is a multi-billion dollar company.


Security is seen by some as a trump card in the argument against open source, but the open source community has a good record when it comes to fixing code in response to threats. That cannot always be said of proprietary shops where code is not in plain sight, so there are few people looking out for and acting on problems.

Readiness for the future

Open source software is already running the cloud, the web and mobile solutions. Your future employees will be steeped in open source. The best talent will be attracted to places where they can run their own projects and interact with developers outside the organization. You will want them to develop applications to suit you, but you will appreciate being able to share the cost with the rest of the community rather than building, running, and maintaining proprietary applications.


If you do not go with open source, you could find yourself waiting for your vendor to fix a problem. In a business environment where agility is key, this might be the riskiest move of all.

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