The popularity of open source software has soared over the last few years and continues to do so. In the 1990s and early 2000s proprietary software was more popular because it was built very well, regarding the resources of companies behind it.
With the internet getting more widespread, open source gained more and more popularity to the extent that right now open source systems are deployed in all kinds of places and various sectors of business. This is hugely due to the internet which brought several people together to contribute small pieces that make a huge WHOLE.
The three advantages of open source systems are:
- Lower costs. Open source systems cost lower than proprietary systems because of the community contribution factor. An example could be MySQL which is the most used relational database in the world. To use it, you don’t even have to ask for permission or sign any agreements. If you want to use MSSQL however, you have to buy it from Microsoft. Of course even with free MySQL you will have to pay your IT people that run and maintain the database, maybe pay some consultation fees or even pay Oracle directly if you want an enterprise version with a few more features. Either way, you get to pay less and this is good for business.
- Huge developer communities. The advantage of a huge developer community is millions of people working on improving a system. Take and example of the popular web frameworks such as joomla, Drupal and WordPress. They have improved to become very robust systems and if someone used these content management systems 5 years ago, that person would tell you how an improvement of over 50% on average has been made. That is what a developer community will do to a product.
- Widespread and growing. Open source software is now spread in all sectors of business and life. This provides an advantage especially to people who are using the software for work. As open source spreads, the chances of you meeting the same product somewhere else increase, but the guarantee of you getting so much community help in case you start afresh is huge too. Not every one will be using Drupal or WordPress but you are guaranteed that faced with suiteCRM, you will get great help from the community. This flattens your learning curve in a way.
Which one of these advantages resonates with you most ? Share with us your favorite open source systems, or even projects. Cheers.