Why one should consider an Open Source Solution. Let me clarify one think straight out, When I refer to Open Source solution, I am only referring to the solution being implemented on a GNU/Linux platform, Its always preferred for open source solutions being implemented on Linux platform until and unless there is no other option left out.
There have been so many articles on the same. Still there is very little acceptance in SMBs and MSEs, especially in India. Having said that, I have seen Open Source products being utilized very well at lot of Indian (and State) Government Organizations and as well as Multinationals (mostly IT companies, Big three IT companies of the globe). Let me put forth my advocacy for Open Source Solutions
1. Ease of use
Think I am kidding? No.
Example, Linux is as easy to use as any other most popular Operating System.
Still feel I am crazy, absolutely not. Consider this
My parents are very comfortable using good old cell phone with only numerical (also alpha, though they never use). They quite can’t get to use all the icons, touch feel, large screen, etc.
I had a friend you was very affectionate to his iPhone and was always criticizing any other smart phone, be it Android (any make, shape, look, etc.,), example, it was horrible for him to make even a plain simple call using an Android interface.
What am I saying here?
Simple, we are comfortable in using what we are used to. Very similar to above examples, Linux GUI is as friendly (in fact, I feel far better, no hanging, no slowness, no unpredictable behavior) compared to Windows.
Use it for couple of weeks; you will fall in for it!! Believe me.
2. Runs Uninterrupted
Until and unless there is an external interruption such as a power failure, hard disk failure, up gradation task, etc., any Open Source service/solution implemented on a Linux platform runs uninterrupted. Yes, I mean it, Have you ever seen a proxy server catering to remote manage hundreds of servers from across the globe and run flawlessly for 5 years!
Surprising? Yet true. This is at the data center of one of the world’s leading IT Services company, it has only two proxy server allowing their hundreds of clients (and hundreds of its own engineers) to login to and access their respective servers (yes, with a access control) hosted in their data center from across the globe.
It’s been running uninterrupted flawless for more than 5 years now.
This is just one example taken of hundreds implemented.
3. Options to choose
Choose any solution you need, there are always (almost) more options to choose from. Each has their own uniqueness, usability case, features, options, etc. This applies to any solution, right from requirement to just take a note or to have a secure, high available and managed network of thousands of nodes. Choose what fits your requirement.
You can always choose to have a solution which is beyond your requirement and use only the parts/modules that is relevant to you, this way you can always keep expanding (or leverage) other features as you require, all without worrying about high cost.
4. Costs Less
Why am I saying it costs less, than saying its “FREE”?
When most of people perceive Open Source Solutions to be free, they are true and at the same time not. It entirely depends on the solution you choose to use, if the creator of the solution has released it to use completely free, you use it for free (true in most of the case), there are situations when you will have to consider a commercial flavor of the solution (yes I prefer calling it commercial flavor, same solution, but with added features and support for which a charge is expected).
Even if you implement a commercial flavor, pretty sure it’s going to be considerably less expensive considered to the commercial proprietary solution.
There are lots of people out there who say the TCO (total cost of ownership) is more with an open source solution than with proprietary solution, really? They got to be kidding, they will take all expenses (including the sugar you add to the tea you provide to the implementing engineer/consultant) when calculating the TCO on an Open Source solutions (which also includes inflated support charge, where do they get it from?), have they really tried it?
It’s like survey’s by a consumer item company, the outcome result is what they want, not what reality is.
So never go by anyone who says TCO of an open source solution is higher, it cannot be.
You get software that is relatively free; support is also virtually free (explained in my next section). Above all, you don’t need very high end server hardware as you might for a proprietary solution. Most of the solutions I have successfully implemented are on at a maximum high end desktop hardware (crux: comparatively for other solutions, they are not resource hungry)
So in the above where do you find it costing higher than a proprietary solution which requires a Windows server (costing thousands more).
5. More Support Options
Open Source solutions has fare more support options available than a proprietary solution. Paid, Free, Wiki’s, ample documentation, user groups are all the options available to solve any problem you face or need to understand anything you don’t.
Above all, the logging, debugging by ourselves is straight forward and very easy. All one needs to know is Linux OS administration, he can ensure that your solution runs flawlessly for years ahead.
Ask any system admin (of course those who are used to both Windows and Linux administration), what their preference would be, you will get the answer (yes, its Linux), it is just that he knows the system runs flawless and if any problem, he knows he can get his answers from any of the options mentioned above, that to faster than for any proprietary solutions (even if they have paid a ransom for the same)
6. Source Code availability
Open Source products make source codes of the software available for you. How does this help?
Consider you feel like you just wanted the product to have a feature for yourselves, congrats, you have the source code; you are free to make the changes and add any new feature you need.
Consider you require ensuring that the product is secure to use in your environment and that the product itself is not compromised or does not have any hidden security threat. Congrats again, go through the code (or get accessed) for security concerns.
Most of the applications can be compiled and installed to suit your environment, fine tune the configurable parameters, environment settings, compile it and run the application
If the above isn’t convincing to switch to Open Source solutions, what will???