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To Pay or not to Pay for your Software

To Pay or not to Pay for your Software

Some Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are known to use open source software due to cost advantages, while many others are hesitant to use it, due to support and security concerns. But this is not an issue of concern only to SMEs, as organisations of all size constantly evaluate open source and proprietary software. Do you think open source software is prone to more cyber-attacks, as compared to proprietary software? The whole IT world debates on this and no battle lines are drawn on it, yet. Without arguing on the merits or demerits of any of the statements of this debate, this article attempts to understand why open source and proprietary software are used, explains some of the not so commonly known benefits of open source and proprietary software.

 ProsCons
Proprietary Software
  1. In the context of cyber-security, an enterprise’s preference of proprietary software can be attributed to the fact that security patches are available from the service provider to close back door entry to hackers and protect from malicious attacks.
  2. Other advantages of using proprietary software are less ownership on the product, availability of adequate support from the vendor on most occasions and the prestige of associating with a well-known brand and a product which is time-tested in the market.
  1. With regards to proprietary software, there have been instances of back door entry by state actors. There is no process to verify this setback till date. An organization may decide to invest or not invest in a proprietary software based on their trust or the lack of trust on the particular state actor.
Open Source Software
  1. The reality is each and every functionality can be modified and accessed any number of times, as per business requirements in the process of working on an open source software and owning it. Besides, the other advantages of open source software are
    a)Customisation with control:
    No matter be the levels of customization, the business owns complete control and there is no third-party interference. With a little research and execution, there can also be a collaboration between old and new functionalities, and improvement of the competitiveness of the product.
     
    b)Product Development:
    Innovation and continuous improvement is the key in open source software. Since in-house developers constantly work on it, there is lot of scope for innovation in-tune with the business requirements. For instance in the banking sector there are lot of opportunities for open source products in terms of enterprise-wide utility. Some of them include
    • Secure videoconferencing
    • Secure email
    • Project management
    • Fintech products
    • Cloud storage
    • Collaboration software
    • Secure Block chain
    • Office products
    • Data mining
    • E-learning
    • Accounting Software
    • Access and Identity management
  1. The impediments to using an open source software are efforts and man-hours involved in coding and the difficulties in creation of source codes for business requirements. Besides, there are lot of suspicions on product stability, as minor changes in code could cause serious impact on functionalities or create a bug.
  2. While community support makes open source software an attractive option, it is vital to check if there is active community support and strong user base for the particular tool developed in your organization using open source.
  3. Open source comes with a price though not in monetary sense. The organization should invest in lot of skills to develop and nurture their tool.
  4. One of the common and well-known instance of hacking is through replicating of a product which has already been developed through open source code and inserting malicious codes and luring users through tall claims.
Summary:

Perfection is the watchword for open source software. Learn it, do it yourself whether it is functional or security aspect. Constraints in time, resources and complex business processes may make it a compelling case to use proprietary software. A cohesive ‘open source strategy’ is a prerequisite for organisations which are keen to develop tools with open source software. One important tip is to contribute to the open source community through active participation.

Do evaluate the pros and cons in line with your business requirements before deciding on open source or proprietary software.

Cheers!

Posted by Anthony Vinose

Associate Manager - Information Technology, Corporate Center, ReBIT

on 05 May 2018

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