What Should a Business Consider When Evaluating Open Source Solutions? | casinosuchnet.ga

Open source solutions are becoming more widely accepted and implemented at the enterprise level. There are many factors that need to be considered when a business decides to explore open source solutions. It is essential to perform careful research and analysis of both the proprietary and open source software available to ensure that any solution selected will meet the current and future needs of the business and also be a financially sound decision.

Why should a company consider open source?

One primary reason is the ease of adoption. Initially, open source has fewer limiting economic factors. For example, consider a newspaper that wants to go online but does not have money to pay for development of a website. In the proprietary world, the newspaper is out of luck until they have money available to spend on development or to purchase a proprietary solution.

The open source world is an entirely different ball game. The newspaper has a number of free options from Joomla! to WordPress which can be deployed immediately and that will provide the basic functionality necessary to start posting information to the web. As resources become available the newspaper can build additional functionality on top of the open source application.

Even if a company is not prohibited from implementing a proprietary solution based on budgetary concerns, the company has the option with open source software to take it for a fully functional test run. This is not always the case with proprietary software.

Another factor to consider is the cost of scalability associated with proprietary software. It is usually possible to scale up on a given proprietary solution but it will come at a substantial cost. The proprietary pricing model is usually based on a cost per user or per system basis. Open source software does not have such limitations. For example, consider a company that primarily uses Microsoft Office. Every time the company hires, it will incur a cost of several hundred dollars for an additional license. The cost will be in the thousands of dollars if the company hires fifty employees. A company that primarily uses OpenOffice avoids this cost.

Additionally, most open source development is based on open standards which makes it easier to switch from one type of technology to another in the event that a company becomes dissatisfied with its current solution or sees the benefits of switching to something that may integrate better with the company’s current setup. Not all proprietary companies embrace open standards.

What about security?

One of the most prevalent concerns about open source solutions are questions regarding security risks. Is open source secure enough for an enterprise solution? The answer is – as with most everything – it depends. It depends on the solution itself, the needs of the business, and the way the solution is implemented.

It should not be assumed that an open source solution is less secure than a proprietary solution. Each and every solution needs to be independently evaluated based on the criteria that are important to a business. It is only within the context of the needs of a given business that any type of realistic and accurate determination on security can be made.

The fact is, that in some cases, open source projects go through a very rigorous development and verification process. This generally happens because the community of developers and users have a strong incentive to make sure that the program is as secure as possible. Public scrutiny can be beneficial if there are enough developers who have reviewed the code and have taken the time to submit bugs and fixes

Another feature of open source is that it can be modified and installed in a minimal fashion. Why is this important? First, resources are not going to be tied down by unnecessary processes and systems running in the background. Second, because of the minimalist approach there are fewer points of entry into a system. This is similar to security on a house. Fewer doors provide less options for a potential intruder.

The main argument in favor of the proprietary model is that the source code is closed and that the vulnerabilities are therefore harder to ascertain – both by the public and hackers. Safety through obscurity has potential problems and pitfalls as well. Because the source code is not freely ascertainable it is frequently the company who develops a solution that will also verify it for security vulnerabilities. The process lacks third party verification and oversight. It should also be noted that occasionally proprietary code does make it out into the open despite the best efforts to keep it closed. Such was the case when portions of the source code for Windows 2000 showed up on the internet causing concerns about security.

It is of the utmost importance that a thorough and in-depth analysis be performed in order to make a well qualified decision on the security of a given solution, whether it is proprietary or open source.

What are the hidden costs of open source solutions?

Many companies do not have the luxury of making significant technology upgrades in a vacuum. In addition to adding enhanced functionality, new updates in technology must make sense financially and result either in an increase to the actual profit of the company or in a reduction of costs. It is important for most businesses to base technology decisions on the financial feasibility of any given solution.

Even though open source is initially an attractive solution because it is generally priced at free, a company needs to consider other factors that will contribute to the overall cost. When making these calculations it is important to be thorough and calculate all associated costs of a given solution.

Training Time

A very significant cost is the time needed for training personnel on the new solution. If a business that has been primarily based on Microsoft Windows is considering switching over to a Linux variant, the company needs to consider the cost necessary to bring their personnel up to speed. Both the cost of official company wide training and the cost associated with normal user learning curves needs to be taken into account.

Time frame

Timing and deadlines also need to be taken into account when implementing new technology. Experience shows that it is best to be conservative when deciding on time frames associated with implementing new technology. There are always unforeseen problems that add to the time frame and to the cost. It is best to plan for such obstacle


With any software solution deployed at the enterprise level there will always be a need to add additional functionality, tweak the solution, and fix bugs. This necessary cost can be properly handled with proper preparation and planning.

Integration and Required Upgrades

A very significant cost is the time associated with integrating newer technology and older technology. Additionally, it may be necessary to make upgrades – both hardware and software – in order to implement the desired changes. Research upfront into the potential problems and costs prior to making a technology decision will enable a company to decide on and make realistic assessments of the cost and time necessary to implement the solution. Most businesses already have a substantial legacy of older technology upon which they heavily rely for day to day processes. Because of the integral nature of the processes it can be very costly to make the necessary upgrades or to build the needed integration.

What about support?

One of the benefits of an open source solution is the community that has developed around it. It is important to make a thorough survey of that community before deciding on a solution.

A business that properly selects an open source solution will not be locked in to retaining a particular support provider. The same is not usually true if a company elects to use a proprietary solution because the source code is not available. This means that a company will be stuck with a particular vendor unless it switches technologies.

If an open source solution is properly vetted before implementation there will be any number of available developers to provide support. Also, there are many open source projects that are backed by large corporations. This gives a business the option of paid support from the corporation or of going to a third party developer. MySQL from Oracle (previously Sun Microsystems, Inc.) is an example of this model. Oracle provides support similar to that of a proprietary solution provider but there is a significant following in the open source community as well.

In short, open source can offer both options whereas proprietary only offers one.

What about Customization?

Frequently solutions out of the box – proprietary or open source – will not fit the needs of a company. In most cases, additional features are needed to make it a viable solution. The very nature of open source makes it possible for outside contractors to build additional features. The same is not always true with proprietary software. If a company needs an additional feature, it will have to hire a programmer that comes from a very selective list or wait for another release of the product that has the desired functionality.

Many companies build custom enterprise solutions from scratch. Depending on the needs of the company, it may be better in a number of instances to implement an open source solution that developers use as a base on which additional features are built. The reason for this practice is to take the money that is saved from purchasing proprietary software and spend it on customization. This can result in getting more bang for the buck. There are many developers who specialize in customizing many well known open source platforms.

How Do Custom Business Signs Take the Work Out of Branding? | casinosuchnet.ga

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