What is Open Source?

A Community-Based Approach to Software

Open Source software is not new to the computer world, but businesses have only recently discovered the advantages of Open Source software. Open Source refers to the open method of software development and free availability of (human readable) source code. Open Source applications are typically built with a collaborative approach among developers and companies. Closed source, proprietary software keeps source code secret and is developed exclusively by employees. Open Source software has been overshadowed by its strongly marketed and financed competition. Interest in Open Source has grown with increasing concerns over the security and rising costs of proprietary systems. With names like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, Google, Mozilla, Linux, RedHat, Ubuntu and OpenOffice leading the way, Open Source software is rapidly gaining popularity and acceptance in the business world.

The biggest benefit of using open source is that it puts you in control of your systems. When you buy a proprietary system, you are at the mercy of the vendor for updates or modifications you might (or might not) want for your business. You don't own the system—you only license the right to use it for a specific number of users, on a specific number of machines, within the design parameters of the software. With Open Source, you have the right to change, grow, and redistribute your systems as you wish.

Open Source features and benefits:

 

Feature

Benefit

  • Adherence to open standards
  • Possible to integrate different software capabilities into a cohesive system
  • Easy to migrate data to other applications in the future
  • Access to source code
  • No vendor lock-in—any open source consultant can support or customize
  • Limitless customization—customize as much or as little as desired, and manage customizations so that they continue to work with future software releases.
  • Open source licensing terms
  • No per-user fees—as your company grows, you are free to grow the system without paying more. You can also share systems with partners.
  • Responsive community support
  • Most open source solutions are in worldwide use. It's often possible to resolve problems within hours of identifying them, even bugs deep within the software. Updates available in days, not years.
  • Focus on getting software working correctly, instead of adding unnecessary features
  • Better quality software. There may be fewer features available, but the ones that are developed work—more predictable, stable
  • Fewer software crashes
  • Better security

Open Source suppliers, such as Freelock Computing, must work hard to keep you happy, because you can easily switch to another vendor without having a huge investment sunk in a proprietary system. Open Source makes software a service, not a product.

Open source business solutions are typically in active development. They may not always have all the fancy features as comparable proprietary products. So they may take extra development work if you want those extra features. On the other hand, the Open Source applications typically work with fewer problems and have better security. Sometimes it is necessary to implement both open and closed source software to meet particular business needs. In these cases, licensing will be more expensive and restrictive. Freelock will clearly identify these situations.

  1. What a pleasure to work with Freelock in launching our family website for the West Seattle community. John and Jill were vital to our success. We quickly saw that Drupal could handle our scope of requirements and thrilled to find that many of our wish list features were doable with such a capable staff. Communication and support are out of this world impressive with the Freelock team and set the standard for the industry. On time and in budget. Freelock is the clear choice.

    Jackie Clough, Owner
    West Seattle Family Zone

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