Should You Use Open Source Software in Your Business?

Meta: Open source software is a great choice for businesses. Find out more about how you can make use of it in your company here.

Of the many different types of software that you could try to use in your business, one that might stand out to you is open source. This can be a flexible and interesting type of software to try, and it could offer many opportunities to your company, employees, and customers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you should think about when using open source software.

What is Open Source Software?

Open source software refers to a piece of software or coding with a publicly accessible design. This means that anyone can come in and modify and share it, meaning that the development of any projects using this software is a community effort.

Most types of software are what are referred to as “proprietary” or “closed source” software. The person or company who developed the software will retain full control of the software. Users will usually have to sign a service or license agreement before they are able to access the software, and they will not be able to alter it anyway unless they have permission from the original publishers (permission that is rarely given).

In contrast, you can alter open source software in any way that you see fit. If you decide to publish your edits for others to use, you often have to share the base source code too – and this must be done for free. For these reasons, open source software can often be a great choice for businesses as they can manipulate the code to get precisely the properties they need.

Security Issues

One thing that you do need to watch for when using this type of software is its security. After all, this is coding that has passed through many different hands before it gets to you. There have been a few instances where developers have found something nasty hidden in the code of their open source projects. This might have made its way in there by accident, but it can still throw off a lot of people when they find it.

You need to make sure that you have a good open source security program in place. This will help you protect your assets and projects and can track some of the different components used in your software.

The scope of open source software is too good to pass up, but you need to make sure that you are properly protecting yourself when you decide to use it. Have protections in place and make sure you vet each component thoroughly, especially if you decide to bring a new one in. This can also help you to compensate if support for a certain component collapses and it vanishes off the internet.

Easier Than You Might Think

Many make the mistake of thinking that open source software is going to be difficult to use, or awkward to integrate within your business. However, you might already be using open source in your business without even realising it. Many web servers and virtual machines make use of Linux and this is one of the most popular open source operating systems out there. This is just one example of where you might find open source material, it is truly everywhere.

This means that it might not be too difficult for your team to make the switch and start working on the new software. Open source software sounds intimidating when you first hear about it, but it is no different to any closed source program you might use.

You might even decide to make use of what is known as a fork. This is a piece of source code from an open source program that has been heavily edited. It might have a different UI and it could perform different functions compared to what is in the original source code. Even if your company does not create this fork yourselves, it could prove to be a much better fit with your company compared to what is presented by the original source code.

Should You Start to Use Open Source Software?

One of the biggest draws of open source software is its flexibility. A company is able to take a piece of open source code and mould it into any shape that they need. Since every business is unique and has its own list of needs, this is fantastic functionality that you are not going to be able to find in a closed source program. Whatever needs you might have, they can be met with open source.

If you find that you can’t find a program that fits your business perfectly, you should have a look at what the world of open source programming can offer. With open source software by the side of your business, you should be able to create precisely the program you need, no matter how complicated or simple that might be.