Although most businesses, whether large or small, tend to rely on name brand software for their computing needs, a real argument could be made that they are shooting themselves in the foot by not trying out open source options for all their largest computing tasks. Although almost all open source software is free, the benefits go well beyond price. Of course, every business could use a bit of savings, but open source brings value that often makes it far superior to the pricier traditional options. Here are just a few of the ways open source software can benefit your business.
While price will always get the longest look, quality of a software product should be considered the most important. After all, if it doesn’t save you time and work the way you need it to, no amount of savings is worth it. So consider how open source software works by definition. Traditional software is created by a handful of full-time, company programmers, many of whom are often working on a few products at a time. Open source software is created by thousands of developers. And they’re not doing it for a paycheck, but simply for a love of the process. All of those developers are looking for ways to improve and innovate the software all the time, not only during yearly or biannual updates. They’re looking to make a name for themselves, and distinguishing themselves with an open source improvement is a great way to do it. And since users are developing it, the software often includes exactly what users want. Check out some recent studies, and you’ll find open source software has been found to consistently outperform its traditional counterparts.
Probably the most surprising benefit of open source software is that it is incredibly secure. You would think that products developed by hundreds or thousands of people would have more glitches, but it has been found that the reverse is actually true. With all of those eyeballs turned on a program, the chances of a glitch slipping through the process are minimized. Anyone who wants to can test the code of an open source program, and all of those testers are eager to find problems. Programmers working for a corporation might be more nervous about uncovering a glitch, especially far down the development line, as it could mean their job. Open source programmers are celebrated for uncovering and fixing problems. On top of that, bugs that do crop up are often fixed very quickly. Proprietary software can frequently take weeks or months to see bugs addressed.
Another great benefit of open source is that it is often highly customizable. Not every business uses a program for the exact same reasons, and variation in industry requirements could make a particular software a poor fit for your needs. Open source software can be adjusted by your own programmers so that whatever functions are missing can be added. That is of course impossible with proprietary software, and allows for a huge amount of freedom and flexibility. If you run your business with software developed by Microsoft, for example, you are stuck working within their timeframe, and must swallow their prices and timetables. And if you want your software to keep working, you must continue buying updates as they are released. With open source software, not only can you move around as you like, but you’ll find that a program will work well on either new or older hardware. That means you’ll spend less on upgrades across the board. For example, download open office on a range of devices and you’ll find it works seamlessly. That means you can use software products across the office without needing to replace every employee’s workstation.