Finding Value in Open Source Software

by Anya Jennings on May 10, 2010

Companies look for ways to save money around every corner. While there are some places that you SHOULDN’T cut corners with, using open source software (OSS) definitely is not one of them. With cloud computing set up to be the newest take over in technology, it’s hard to pass up the ability to employ OSS within your corporation.

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WebDevStudios says that one of the major benefits of open source software is public collaboration- “One of the major benefits of open source software is the public collaboration behind each project. Most open source projects are created by tens of thousands of programmers all collaborating to create, and improve upon, a flawless website framework.” I totally agree. When software is out there free and constantly being updated, you’re in a win-win situation.

When working with commercial software within your company, you might find that some features are lacking and the whole system is lackluster. This is called the “everyone is going to use this no matter what, so why make it good” syndrome. The beauty of OSS is that developers look for specific feedback on their software and are constantly looking to improve its capabilities for the public that may be using it. It’s almost like getting the love from a small business rather than the cold corporate shoulder.

So how has open source helped to save corporate companies in the long run? In an interview on Third Nature, states “The big thing, of course, is open source is viewed as a lower-cost model. Combine that with a period when everybody was slashing budgets but still had staff. They might have been putting projects on hold because they couldn’t spend $100,000 on some BI tool or another database license. But they could still do the project by going ahead with open source.”

CRM (customer relationship management) is one area that has benefited enormously in the open source field. SplendidCRM, which is in the top 10 for open source CRM, is shifting and changing ridiculously fast and is highly customizable, with features such as an Outlook plug-in and integrated Paypal.

If you’re considering using open source software and you’re weighing the options, think of it like this.  Would you rather have software that is constantly growing and changing with the industry, or would you rather spend a ton of money on commercial software that may take months and multiple new releases for bugs to be fixed? That one necessary feature that you’ve been waiting for may require you to make a whole new purchase in proprietary software.

If the cost of licensing fees and in-house developers has you worried, take a closer look. While having an in-house developer can have higher than average prices depending on their skill set, as well as licensing fees for the source code, if you look at the opportunity cost for what you may be losing in conversions and business due to the lag in the typical enterprise software, you may be surprised.

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