Open Source Software

The growth of open source software is changing the way the industry views the fundamentals of development and information sharing. Offering advantages for both users and developers, OSS has also had a significant impact on businesses across the globe.

Anyone interested in the IT world will be familiar with the significance of open source software. Also known as OSS, open source software is not only having a major impact on the software industry, but also millions of organisations and businesses worldwide.

Many software products now contain at least some open source components, and even some commercial products are entirely open source software. Businesses and organisations are saving millions of dollars in IT by using open source software: thus making it an increasingly popular software option globally. Open source software makes regular appearances in leading IT industry publications such as NetGuide and IT Brief .

What Is Open Source Software?

Simply defined, open source software is computer software that offers users freedoms not usually available with commercial or proprietary software. It’s commonly accepted as software created by a collaborative community, allowing it to evolve and be developed to meet the specific needs of its users.

The most significant feature for the industry is that open source software provides users/developers with the source code: the blueprints from which the software is created and the key to understanding how the software works.

The biggest difference between software created by the open source communities and commercial software is that OSS is published under licenses that ensure that the source code is available to everyone to inspect, change, download, and explore.

Practically none of the software used by the typical computer user comes with source code. This is closed source, or proprietary, software, and industry giants such as Microsoft and Adobe treat source code – those blueprints we mentioned earlier – as a trade secret. Open source software offers the freedom to view and modify the software and even distribute these modified versions to others. Open source developments make regular appearances in IT business news.

Collaborative Vs Competitive

Basically, the rise of open source software has seen software development become a collaborative rather than competitive process.

Open source software is typically developed because people want a specific piece of software to exist. Because of this, a lot of OSS is developed in direct response to a real world need, as opposed to software features created by software companies that perhaps do not meet the targeted needs of users as specifically.

One of the key motivators driving the growth of open source software is its accessibility, flexibility, and capacity to encourage innovation. By allowing the ‘blueprint’ behind OSS to be accessed and modified, the evolution of that software is driven by what users actually want and need from their software.

Suggested Advantages Of Open Source Software

Ultimately, the reason behind the growth of open source software is that it offers an array of benefits for users, business and organisations.

  • High Quality. Having a community of developers accessing, scrutinising and modifying the code can ensure a quality product.
  • No Vendor Lock-In. You have more freedom to utilise and customise the software the way that will benefit your company most
  • Simpler Licensing. OSS lets you install it several times and use it from any location.
  • Support. Online communities are a great resource, and most organisations that create open source software also offer maintenance and support.
  • Scaling. Generally, OSS can be easily scaled to meet your specific needs. With a range of options for clustering, load balancing and open source applications such as email, your business or organisation can either scale up and achieve higher growth or consolidate and achieve more with less.

Success And Growth

Software development is undergoing a major change from being a fully closed software development process towards a more community driven process. Successful open source projects like Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL and many others are experiencing huge growth, and companies such as Sun Microsystems and AOL Time Warner have struck gold with their respective open source software solutions OpenOffice and Mozilla/Firefox.

Though the concept of open source software may be perplexing to the uninitiated, it certainly does not mean that software developers can’t make any money from their software. It simply means they cannot make money by holding businesses and users hostage via license agreements.

Another reason for the continued growth of open source software is that its development is also able to occur much faster than conventional software development. Not only does this boost competitive pressure and force proprietary software developers to up the anti, but it arguable results in better software quality overall.