Open source technologies can provide many cost effective and customizable options. While no single solution will work for every situation, open source projects typically have a variety of configurations, settings, and plug-ins to tailor them to your needs. Another distinct advantage open source provides is free licensing to use the software. An enterprise grade support can optionally be purchased and there is always a community of enthusiasts that provide free help through chat rooms and social blogs.
What kind of configurations, settings, and plug-ins are we talking about? That depends on the technology in question. However, it is safe to say that open source software is available to modify and change so there are plenty of people modifying and changing it. Some of these people will be in the same type of business as you and will have discovered ways to make the job easier. When these people write programs that can be added to enhance features, they call them plug-ins. Sometimes plug-ins are only available for purchase, but these are typically specialized and will greatly benefit the right situation. Most plug-ins are open source too, so they are available to use for free, but may have extra features or support if you purchase the enterprise version.
How can a company provide such complex programming for free? The ‘secret’ behind open source technology is that much of the development is done by the community members. A proprietary software is developed entirely by the company that owns it. Open source technologies have people who oversee and test everything before it is endorsed, but they don’t have to tackle the whole job by themselves. The companies usually offer support services and plug-ins to make their income. The community uses and expands the software while the company oversees and gives credibility to the project. As the technology becomes more popular and more people participate, more companies will be interested in the enterprise support. This in turn generates the need for expanding the technology and the company grows. As the company grows, it provides more features for the public community to have access to, returning to the community members developing more, and so on.
Why would you need the enterprise support if there are free options available? Some companies are large enough to require faster results than the community forums and chat rooms can provide. While the help is free, it does come from people who are typically working a job and helping out on their own time. Enterprise support can also provide a top level of support at all times while the community support will have people with varying levels of expertise. The type of support required may be affected by the level of IT support your business has. A company with an IT department may feel confident in supporting internally while a business without IT support may feel the need to have support from the company. Even a business with an IT department may decide it is cost effective to have the support during transition and later discontinue the support when it is no longer needed.
Even though open source technologies may not be for every situation, they have great potential and should be considered as a viable option. We are often dazzled by advertisements and blinded by what is familiar until we forget to stop and look for all the options. Want more info? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a free consultation.