‘Open source’ or ‘proprietary’ (aka, commercial) software…, which is better?
Most people go with what they know or have heard of. After all, how can you know what you don’t know. Following is a discussion of ‘open source’ and ‘proprietary’ distribution and usage and, then, a discussion why open source may be a better option.
Who using a computer hasn’t heard of Microsoft? Microsoft’s Windows is the operating system on about 74% of the world’s desktop computers and desktop computers are where people usually cut their teeth on computers.
But if you could analyze every piece of technology out there, from industrial to commercial to personal applications – like Kindle e-readers, smart TVs, Nest thermostats, drones, cars (Toyota, Daimler, Mazda, just to start), Hollywood’s movies, etc, Linux would blow the competition away. Even the Android operating system uses Linux kernel code that’s modified to provide the user-friendly feel of Android.
The ‘Cloud’ is where Linux pulls away. According to W3Cook, Linux powers the servers that run 96.5% of the top one million domains in the world as ranked by Alexa. Linux powers about 70% of the top 10 million Alexa domains while Windows controls the rest. Linux distros control 92% of Amazon’s EC2 market.(theCloudMarket.com)
Internet – Websites
Almost 50% of the top ten million websites on the internet have been built using the free and open source WordPress software.
Linux dominates the world’s supercomputers, too. In June 2017, 498 out of the top 500 ran on Linux. The remaining two ran Unix based AIX. (MakeUseOf.com)
You may not know much about Linux or have heard it’s more difficult to use, but it’s the backbone for an astonishing amount of what you use.
The office software you’re more likely familiar with is Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc, and the email program, Outlook. Again, it’s the gorilla in the marketplace.
But the open source ‘Office’ programs provide all the same functionality and you don’t have to pay for them. Libre Office, Open Office, Softmaker Office, just to name a few open source options.
Customer Relationship Management
In the CRM realm, the 800 pound gorilla proprietary product is SalesForce. There’s also Microsoft Dynamics and numerous others that charge for the software and then charge a monthly usage fee, usually based on a per-user basis which is paid a year up-front. Then there are add-ons that may also need to be bought.
On the ‘open source’ side, there are several options. Our 25 years of experience working CRM programs compels us to encourage anyone using or considering SalesForce, MSFT Dynamics, Infusionsoft and others, to take a close look at SuiteCRM, which is used by over 4 million users globally. (Compare the features available in SuiteCRM and SalesForce here.) Lesser players include vTiger and Odoo Software.
Beware of so-called free programs that may not be open source that lure you in for ‘free’ but leave you wanting for more features, which cost extra. Also be careful to ensure that your data is YOUR data and not caught up in a system from which you can not extract all that is yours when you want it.
The movement in the last decade or so has been toward SAAS – software as a service – where software providers charge a monthly fee for using their product rather than selling it to you for a one time price. SAAS provides the provider with ongoing revenue, which their shareholders like. You, as a user, don’t get any dividends for your payments, however.
But, why pay for ‘proprietary’ products when open source versions are just as robust, comprehensive, and often more secure and respectful of your privacy?
As you realize if you’ve read this far, you’ve heard of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook 365, Microsoft Windows, SalesForceCRM, but not Libre Office, Softmaker Office, SuiteCRM, etc.
Microsoft and SalesForce (and many other businesses making software) spend a lot of money marketing their software so you’ll buy it.
Open source software is available for free. One doesn’t make money selling open source software because it’s freely available for download on the internet. Who’d pay someone for something that’s free on the next corner (website)?
So why consider ‘open source’ products?
Low cost. Customization. Differentiation.
Open source software is often developed through community forums and collaborative ventures, with developers donating their time and expertise, so there’s little to no overhead in terms of paid expertise or expensive marketing and branding programs.
Also, since customers have the source code, those who have programming proficiency can repair bugs on their own, without requiring large support costs.
Here are a few additional advantages:
Reliability. Open source applications are built upon languages, such as HTML, C++, Java or Ruby, among others, which have been proven to be reliable and robust.
Security. By its very nature, open source enables anyone to look for and fix security flaws. Since it’s peer-reviewed, it opens the software up to a large base of inspectors who can quickly detect issues. (This is not possible with commercial ‘proprietary’ products.) In fact, many open source solutions are much more secure than proprietary Internet Information servers
Freedom of choice. Since open source software is available to all, no one company owns the software, and no one company gets locked in with a specific vendor or long-term licensing fees.
Continuity. When a proprietary software vendor goes out of business, most companies must scramble to find a quick replacement. Yet if an open source leader leaves a project, there are plenty of others to take over. The community drives the program, not any one vendor.
Flexibility. Open source software is flexible. You can take it, use it, and customize it to meet your specific needs. It helps you stand apart in your specific market. The key is having the right developers in place to take open source and make it your own..
That’s our expertise. Sonet Dynamics helps businesses customize and implement open source SuiteCRM and WordPress solutions into their business and save a ton of money in unnecessary software costs and subscription fees for proprietary products.