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Using open source to deliver business value

Price is not the only advantage of open-source software; open source can deliver significant value in a number of other ways.

Open source has long been lauded for the value it can bring to businesses, both in terms of a lower total cost of ownership and avoidance of vendor lock-in, enabling them to work with their vendor of choice for a given solution. Of course, price is not the only advantage of open-source software; open source can deliver significant value in a number of other ways.

Businesses can find security, reliability, and stability advantages over proprietary software when deploying open source.

Security

One only needs to look at "Linus' Law" -- named for the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds -- to understand the true security benefits of open source: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

Essentially, this means that with a greater number of developers and testers able to both view and test code, bugs and their potential fixes may be quickly characterised.

Compare this to a proprietary piece of software, where there may only be a few developers working frantically to identify a problem. This doesn't mean that these proprietary pieces of software are less secure; just that companies will have less oversight into how many bugs they contain, or potential security flaws waiting to happen.

Underscoring this, a recent Coverity Inc scan report found that open-source software quality is outpacing proprietary code for the first time.

Importantly, the availability of source code also enables end users to conduct their own in-depth security reviews and audits, if necessary.

Reliability

Reliability is often tied to security, but the value of reliability can be seen when it comes to software defects -- issues that can grind productivity to a halt while a solution is found.

The peer review nature of open-source software described above helps result in improved software reliability. In fact, open-source solutions are trusted to run many of the world's most mission-critical applications and workloads, from more than half the world's trading volume on global stock exchanges to essential military and government applications.

Interoperability

Using proprietary software can result in customers being locked to a particular vendor's suite of products and ecosystem, losing choice and flexibility along the way.

With broad availability of the source code for open-source software, no one company "owns" the software. Several vendors may build upon, contribute to, operate, and maintain open-source software. This brings customers choice and, if necessary, the option to choose a new vendor because they are not locked in to a specific offering from only one vendor.

Cost effectiveness

There's no talking about open source without mentioning the significant cost benefits it can offer over proprietary systems, especially when many projects are free of both fees and royalties.

For one, organisations are not locked to a single vendor, meaning there's no costly transition process if the business wants to move to a new piece of software.

In addition to this, customisation is also less expensive. Companies are essentially given the tools required to tailor solutions as required. With a proprietary solution, organisations have to work with what they're given.

Conclusion

With open source, companies gain access to interoperable, reliable, and secure software that helps keep costs low both during implementation and over the long term. With these key assets, open-source software can offer compelling benefits when compared to proprietary systems.

Learn how an airline standardises on Red Hat Enterprise Linux with flying colours.

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