There is a good reason why open source software is prevalent both with large and small businesses. But CIOs should be aware of the circumstances in which this less expensive option is most effective.
With all the advantages of open-source software, it seems counterintuitive to pay for pricey vendor offerings. The benefits of using open-source software and writing code are undeniable. The Linux operating system and MySQL are two examples of software created using an open-sharing and collaborative development model.
Four decades of excellent code supported by the open-source philosophy have dispelled concerns about the idea’s efficacy. Despite all of its advantages, open source has some drawbacks. The software does have some drawbacks, though. IT executives must carefully consider open source software’s advantages and disadvantages to determine how it fits into their overall technology strategy.
Here is a close examination of the benefits and drawbacks of utilizing free and open-source software in the workplace.
Benefits of open source software
Red Hat found that 82% of the 1,296 IT leaders surveyed said they are more likely to choose a vendor who contributes to the open source community in its 2022 “The State of Enterprise Open Source” report.
The study also discovered that 89% of IT executives think enterprise open source is just as secure or even more secure than proprietary software. Indeed, open source has many advantages, as noted by CIOs, IT executives, developers, and other technology industry members.
It promotes quickness, adaptability, and agility
Developers can access the source code and begin working on it immediately because it is widely used and openly shared. Additionally, it gives businesses a high level of agility and speed by enabling them to quickly develop new software features and functions in response to shifting market conditions and customer demands.
Additionally, because open-source software is free of contracts, IT teams can avoid the problem of vendor lock-in. Organizations must first negotiate contracts before implementing proprietary software. Then, they must work with vendors to either ask for or purchase updates and new features that are not covered by the terms of the contract.
It is simpler to launch pilot programs and scale them up as necessary
Organizations can better test and pilot computer programs with open-source software thanks to quick and straightforward access to the source code and its practically nonexistent costs. Because they can expand as needed, those qualities also help organizations scale more effectively.
The sizable and diverse community
Communities of contributors manage, maintain, and advance open-source software. Contributors to these user-friendly communities frequently come from different businesses operating globally in various industries, typically working in what is known as a collaborative development environment. As a result, companies that use open source frequently can rely on the community’s assistance and gain from each individual’s creativity in the task.
It draws tech talent
According to the OSI and other sources, companies that use open-source software frequently have an advantage when bidding for difficult-to-find tech talent. Some technologists also favor jobs that use open-source software.
Open source software drawback
Additionally, many enterprise IT teams and organizations face difficulties when utilizing OSS. Lack of early intervention can limit the advantages of a development program, lower ROI, or even end the entire initiative. Before choosing open-source software, IT executives should consider the following issues.
Although many observers mistakenly believe that open-source software is free, some initial costs are involved. Organizations must also spend money hiring people with the skills and training necessary to support and work with open source.
Many organizations either neglect to account for or underestimate the costs of deploying, integrating, and managing open source in their cost calculations. In other words, there are ongoing costs even if there are no initial costs. As a result, when choosing between open-source and proprietary solutions, IT management advisors emphasize the necessity of calculating and considering TCO as the better value.
Businesses might underestimate the need for resources
Similar to the previous point, businesses frequently underestimate the knowledge and time their IT staff will need to use open-source software. Forrester Consulting detailed additional staffing issues in its “Seize The Open Source Opportunity Through Comprehensive, Optimized Strategies” report. For instance, the report stated, “companies struggle to hire and retain high-end talent who prefer OSS environments when they fail to create and align behind optimized, comprehensive strategies.”
Implementation, integration, and scaling issues
Integrating open-source software into the enterprise IT ecosystem may be challenging for IT teams. The implementation, upgrades, configuration, internal skills required to support the software integration and interoperability issues, infrastructure scalability, and performance, for instance, are just a few of the difficulties of using open source.
Unknown or abandoned source code
Open source can enter the enterprise without proper oversight and governance because it is so simple to access. As a result, businesses might not be aware of or lose track of the open-source software in their IT infrastructure.
Additionally, companies may have open-source code no longer supported by a contributor community, making it an orphan with no one to turn to. Organizations may experience issues as a result of those scenarios. It is hazardous when an IT team finds a security hole.
The quantity and degree of license regulations and specifications
There are numerous open-source licenses available. For those it has approved, the OSI provides a breakdown and specifics. Technically, some license requirements can be challenging. For instance, some mandate that programmers share any source code modifications they make. While some restrict or forbid the use of open-source software in goods intended for commercial sale, others impose patent retaliation prohibitions.
Additionally, developers who incorporate multiple OSS into a single product may discover that the license terms for one open-source component conflict with those of another. Organizations must know, manage, comply with, and adhere to all OSS license rules and requirements. Unfortunately, some people see it as a drawback of using open-source software.
There is a lack of vendor support
Contributor communities produce a sizable pool of OSS knowledge. These communities, however, do not have the same legal standing as contractually required vendor support with predetermined service-level agreements.
CIOs, IT teams, and the organizations they support need to understand this distinction. The truth is that open source does not include ready-made, round-the-clock support. IT departments must be able to handle problems broadly or entirely independently.