Why Open Source Software
In Point Blank, we believe and invest in open source technologies. The following post summarizes the advantages of open source software for companies and organizations seeking the best technological infrastructure for their online presence.
What is Open Source Software
All digital applications are created by the source code, a series of instructions written by programmers and interpreted by the different computer systems. The differentiation of open source from closed system is that, in the case of open source, the source code is available for all interested parties. Any programmer with knowledge about the programming language can then extend the application, adapting it to their needs.
Advantages of Open Source Software
The benefits of open source software are clear for organizations and companies:
- Security: many applications ship with errors or omissions in their first version. Usually, the initial programmers do their best to resolve any issues but it is still probable that some errors slip through into the final versions.
In the case of closed source software, the only people who can tweak the source code are the original programmers. In contrast, in the open source community any programmer can detect outstanding issues and offer solutions. In the open software ecosystem, errors tend to correct themselves with a speed unheard of in closed software.
- Adaptability and Flexibility: Closed software solutions can only be adapted within the limits set by the original programmers. It is impossible to extend the program beyond the set limits. In contrast, open source software can be adapted by anyone with the relevant knowledge. Even if one is unable to perform alterations by themselves, it is easy to find a programmer with the knowledge to tweak a system. As a result, open software is very easy to extend or complement, allowing the constant adaptation for uses that may be quite far from those set forth by the initial programmers.
- Avoidance of monopoly practices: Choosing the appropriate technological infrastructure is a critical decision for any institution. In the closed source world, it is common to encounter products that are incompatible with established standards and formats. This is often a conscious choice on behalf of the developers: having invested in a closed system, the cost for change is highly elevated, in effect allowing the original developers to raise prices and enforce their terms.
In contrast, open source software has no incentive to impose artificial limitations. Open source developers embrace standards, aiming to maximize their product's value to the greates possible audience, while at the same time permitting anyone to adapt the software to specific needs.
- Independence from the original developer: In the rapidly evolving world of digital communication, it is common for software companies to get bought out, shut down or disappear. When a company ceases to exist, there is usually no guarantee that the product they created will keep being supported or renewed. In the closed source software environment, clients may well need to change supplier and reinvest in a new technological infrastructure.
In open source, this danger is mitigated. Open source does not "belong" to anyone in the strict sense of the word - as long as there is a community interested in the product, support will continue. Even if a small company does not have the infrastructure to take on supporting a software product on its own, an active community may share the responsibility.
- Community participation: For developers, participating in a software community has substantial benefits. One can easily find help and instructions, and there is also a particluar moral confirmation whenever one's work is used by a group of people with similar needs and interests. Participating in an open source community is above all a social experience of sharing and learning.
- Cost: Most often, the cost of an open source solution is considerably lower in comparison to other solutions. No license fees or mark-up costs apply.