Open Source Solutions That Work For You

This article was originally written for ArrowQuick Solutions, a technology consultancy for small businesses.

Posted on August 23, 2010

Infographic by Zenoss.Zenoss, a company that specializes in datacenter monitoring, recently released results of a survey they conducted called “The State of Open Source Adoption“.

“Open source” software allows users to view and change the underlying code, unlike proprietary, or “closed source”, software. Many of the servers and other devices used throughout the world utilize open source software in some way.

Zenoss surveyed systems management professionals about their usage of open source software. Among their findings:

  • 98% of respondents said they use open source at their companies.
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, respondents rated their satisfaction with open source between 7 and 8.
  • 71% of respondents said that open source software was easier to deploy than proprietary solutions.
  • 71% chose open source because of its lower licensing costs.
  • The main reasons given for not adopting open source was poor documentation and lack of support.

These results are not really surprising for those of us in the IT community. We’ve found that open source provides a flexibility that closed source software can’t provide. Being able to customize the software to your needs, or to fix problems without waiting for a new release from the developer, is a huge advantage. Throw in the fact that most open source software have no licensing costs makes it even sweeter.

Of course, there is always a downside. Because open source software is often developed by a loose collective of unpaid programmers, commercial support is usually not available. Some companies now offer free versions of their software, with paid support as an option.

Another good option is to use open source software and outsource the deployment, maintenance, and support. This is where a consultancy (like ArrowQuick) can help you maximize your IT investment:

  • You get the software for free. There’s no point paying for software that gives you less flexibility than free, just-as-good alternatives.
  • Get professional support from a local company. Finding experts on the software in your area can be cheaper and better than the official support.

At ArrowQuick, we’ll never recommend open source software over proprietary software if the proprietary software is a better solution. But being able to use and customize free software while providing expert support is a win in our book.

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