The Truth About Open Source: There's No Such Thing As Free Software!

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The Truth About Open Source: There's No Such Thing As Free Software!

Free Open Source Software: The Facts

The Truth About Open Source

There's No Such Thing As Free Software!

When some people hear the term "free software" their minds often drift to images of Santa Claus swooping down the chimney with a bag full of free gifts, all neatly wrapped, for them to happily enjoy.

Free software really IS like Santa Claus because neither exists!

All software has costs associated including:

  • Licensing Costs (Software Acquisition)
  • Costs of Installation
  • Costs of Customization
  • Costs of Data Migration
  • Costs of System Integration
  • Training Costs
  • Support Costs
  • Hardware Costs

So, when people describe open source software as "free" software, it's important to really understand what free really means and how it effects the sum of all associated software costs.

Many people say open source is free as-in "free beer", which may be true if your beer only consists of the licensing costs.

When we discuss open source as being "free software", we're not referring to costs, per se, we're referring to FREEDOM as in "free speech". And, having true freedom does effect overall costs.

First, let's explore the four "freedoms" derrived from open source:

  1. Freedom To Use The Application As You Wish
  2. Freedom To Modify The Source Code As You Wish
  3. Freedom To Distribute The Source Code As-Is
  4. Freedom To Distribute The Source Code With Modifications

The first two freedoms on the list are individual freedoms that give power to the user and effect both overall cost and return on investment.

Because the user is free to use the application, all of the associated licensing costs are eliminated. So, while open source still has associated costs, because licensing is not one of them, a user can run the application on as many servers as desired, with as many users as desired, get additional licenses for clustering and development, and never have to spend any money on the licenses. This greatly reduces overall costs and enables users to easily test different open source applications, before making a final software selection, without incurring large expenses. It also allows them to invest those savings into the items that are really important to the business, which is the implementation, training and support.

Because the user is free to modify the source code, the user has freedom from vendor "lock-in" and the user has full control over the software rather than the software having the control over the user. If a new feature/function is required, with open source a business is not "hostage" to some proprietary software company that may, or may not, ever decide to encorporate the feature request into a future version and will force the company into using the software the way the developers envisioned and not necessarily in the way that's conducive to the user.

Since individual control isn't enough because often a user can't do everything themselves, and certainly not with all applications, the second two freedoms on the list are collective freedoms that give power to groups of users and also effect overall cost and return on investment.

The freedoms to distribute the source code both with and without modifications enables other users/businesses to become part of the "collective" so any group of individuals/businesses who can modify the source code and want to maintain a certain version are able to do so. This also eliminates vendor lock-in by creating competition though which a user can select from a wide group of qualified vendors, or decide to maintain the application in-house; and, in either instance, the user can never be forced into having to upgrade their software to the next supported version or locked into any propriety/forced support mechanism.

With the ability to either perform these services in-house, or select from any number of service providers in the competitive market, the costs of implementation, data migration, systems integration, training, and support are all lowered significantly - typically by 30% or more.

So, while open source software is far from free, it does transfer a tremendous amount of power back, and give freedom to, the user which ultimately lowers the overall costs of software.

For more information on CYOP's open source application development and consulting services, please contact us or signup for a FREE Business Process Assessment.

ERP Consulting & Implementation

Professional ERP Services

CYOP's services combine the best features of open source software with the best features of Software as a Service (SaaS), enabling organizations to effectively own, control, and further develop and modify as needed, their own ERP software application without the large expenses of hardware acquisition & maintenance, software licensing, data center facilities or an IT staff.

The CYOP team has extensive experience in enterprise computing and has successfully implemented dozens of ERP solutions resulting in increased revenues and growth for our clients.

By leveraging open source ERP software with CYOP planning, implementation and support services, even a smaller businesses can afford an enterprise-class ERP solution with no capital expenses, no hardware to maintain, no software license fees, and no need for on-site technical personnel. On-premises solutions are also available if desired.

CYOP specializes in OpenERP and Openbravo open source ERP solutions. We have a great Odoo PLM ("Product Lifecycle Management") solution for manufacturers using Solidworks or ThinkDesign CAD; and, we can also integrate robust eCommerce and point of sale (POS) options for clients that operate in the retail and restaurant industries.


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