The Business Case for Open Source

By Justin Kerr
March 29, 2008

Open source software is a transformative movement that continues to change and improve the software marketplace. The idea of open source embodies two core concepts: freedom in terms of cost and freedom in terms of use.

Fundamentally, open source software offers the following:

  • The ability to download the software, install it and use it with no purchase required.
  • Full access to the source code of the software with little or no restrictions on changing, improving, extending, integrating, redistributing, etc. the product.

The general concepts of open source have been around as long as the Internet, with the first DARPA computer scientists sharing and augmenting each other's work. Much of the earliest open source software was designed "by geeks, for geeks," and thus was not easily accessible to non-technical users. Over time, massive communities of volunteer developers coalesced around many different types of open source projects and continually improved upon and extended the software.

The end result today is that open source software is often on-par with (and sometimes much better than) equivalent proprietary solutions. Open source has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with old and new technology giants actively embracing the concept and entrepreneurs exploring new business models opened up by these changes in the software industry. The biggest winners are the end users and businesses who get to leverage functional and free software solutions with zero licensing costs and no vendor lock-in.

Many will argue that open source products tend to be more secure, since their code can be openly audited and tested, whereas proprietary software vendors at times have relied upon security through obscurity to keep their (and their customers') systems secure. It is undeniable that data in open source systems tends to be much more portable than in locked down, proprietary environments. The burgeoning open source marketplace ensures that most, if not all, of an organization's communications and IT needs can be met – from office suites to groupware solutions. Both the price savings and the strategic benefits of open source support consideration of it for the communications and IT needs of businesses and organizations.

For more information about open source software, visit Wikipedia's open source definition page:

Prototaph Interactive has deep experience with open-source software and selecting the best solutions for clients' specific needs, including server-side Web applications like content management systems, e-mail newsletter systems, customer portals, document management systems, e-commerce shopping carts and much more. We understand how to evaluate, deploy and maintain open source solutions, as well as train clients in its day-to-day use. Contact Prototaph Interactive today to learn how open source technology can extend the capabilities of and reduce costs for your business.