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Open source software is one of the latest phenomena in software development. Open source software, the opposite of proprietary software, is exposed to the public for the world to see. Open source software has been popularized on websites like GitHub. GitHub allows people to share their code with everyone, but why would a company expose their software to the public?
The proprietary nature of technology can give organizations an advantage over their competition. However, open source software can provide benefits in both the development and sales of the software. Benefits in development include a more secure product and better time allocation, while a great advantage for sales is flexibility for integration and customization.
Security and community
A major concern throughout development of a product is its security. Open source software becomes more secure because it is constantly exposed to barrages of attacks from hackers. Look at current parenting strategies such as "bubble boy” verses “go eat dirt.” Bubble boy’s parents shower the kid in hand sanitizer anytime he touches something dirty, while the parents that employ the “go eat dirt” strategy understand the benefits of building a healthy immune system and allow their kid to get sick once in a while.
From the day we are born, we are under constant attack from pathogens. Building immunity to the pathogen is important because this immunity makes us less susceptible to that pathogen going forward. Just like the kid that eats dirt, open source software is under constant attack from hackers. While proprietary software feels safer in its bubble, its immune system is actually amazingly weak. Once a hacker gets through the firewall, the possibilities for the hacker are endless. With the correct economic incentives, organizations can even dissuade people from hacking the product.
Another major benefit for the development of open source software is the community that is built. The community of developers that work on the product is an obvious benefit to the time allocation in the organization. As well, the community can be a feeder stream for the newest software talent. With active management of a community, organizations can begin cultivating a great community for the future of the company when they hire people from that community.
Open source software benefits in sales and marketing
On the sales and marketing side, open source software allows for customer flexibility on integration. Integration and breaking down data silos is important because companies are then able to make more informed decisions with data integration. Open source software allows this flexibility because the software is exposed to the customer and the customer is allowed to make the necessary changes.
This can also be advantageous in removing some—but not all—service work from integrating the product for a customer. Additionally, it is beneficial to bring a large enterprise client into the developer community because they could add specific integrations to the product that could be of assistance in future deals.
The profitability of open source software
Businesses must be profitable; so how does open source software make money? Transaction fees are a typical way to get paid for open source software. A transaction fee is a pay-as-you-go structure, you pay for each transaction made while using the software. For example, imagine if Dell charged for every keystroke or mouse click.
Some people argue that keeping a product proprietary is advantageous because no one else can copy the product’s advantage. While it is true that organizations are opening up the product’s advantages to their competition, the product’s advantages should be driven by the ability to release new product features and updates fueled by the organization’s intense understanding of the target market’s needs.
The development community around an open source software is focused on the functionality of the software, not the next big thing your target market is craving. Additionally, open source software may put a product at the center of a development community. The open source Android™ platform from Google has a very large amount of applications available to it and many developers who understand the software.
In short, open source software has many corporate advantages for the development and sales team. It can be a major benefit to your software and company as a whole.
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