Open Source vs Proprietary Software – The never ending Battle

Open Source vs Proprietary Software

Cartoon by John Klossner

Open Source vs Proprietary SoftwareThe never ending Battle

This could be one battle that could go on for a long time. One that always looks at providing software solutions to business enterprises at the lowest costs possible or at no cost at all — Open Source Software; and there is another which promises the provision of the best-in-the-business software solutions to large organizations and also the promise of a brand name, but at a higher cost (which is considered worth-it, by many firms) – Proprietary Software.

On the one hand, there is the belief that proprietary software is famous for stability and easy deployment; and the biggest organizations run after them as they are not only trusted but also believed to bring in improvements in the functioning of business. On the other hand, there is another set of organizations that deem Open Source software will be the next big thing in terms of providing the same software solutions as offered by the proprietary ones, but for free or very low costs. However, there still are zillions of companies that work on either of these software solutions.

Why Open Source?

The primary strength of open source software products lies in it’s cost; in that firms have very little to spend in installing them into their business systems. Secondly, these solutions can be customized according to business requirements (unlike proprietary). Another motivation for firms using open source is that they take the source code and develop it further and have a copy of the source code, as opposed to software solutions that do not normally provide a copy of the source code There is also the possibility whereby certain firms buy open software customize it with experts and re-sale the same for a higher price.

Why Proprietary Software?

Though open source comes freely to firms, there are several employee users who aren’t too impressed and show resistance to them and consider licensed software more easy to use. As explained earlier, open source quite often needs to be customized and for this there is the requirement of an expert who possesses open source skills. However, the scarcity of personnel with open source skills sets (which is frustrating). Applicants/Personnel with open source technology skill sets tend to demand higher pay. Apart from this, there are also factors like trust, ease of use, expert business solutions, stability, after-sale services that make proprietary software solutions even now the most sought after software products.

All said and done, it is essential for us to know that though the battle between open source and proprietary software will be on for years to come, the fact remains that each of them have their own target market and these targeted business enterprises are quite happy with whichever software offering they have bought. It often depends on the comfort level of organizations as to which solution is more profitable for them after considering all factors for example cost, customization features, user-friendliness, consistency, and most importantly provision of superlative business solutions.

Fortunately, both open source and proprietary have been catering to the above mentioned needs (and more) of several organizations and are successful in their league.

  • Daemon

    I think it's not quite a battle...they are co-existing together. It's just a matter of choice (and needs) after all, since they both have their advantages & disadvantages...
    I just read this article which presents a comparison (specifically regarding mail servers though) between open source & proprietary software...It contains the key points we all think about when making a decision, so have a look:
    http://www.axigen.com/articles/axigen-free-mail-server---a-great-alternative-to-open-source_66.html
    Cheers!

  • Pro-Bono

    Ultimately, the decision should be made in a business context. Each have their strength and weaknesses, as you've pointed out, but in specific contexts one will always be better than the other... here are the business arguments for making the decision: http://tumblr.com/xjx1s6ublb

  • http://mycomputertoldmetodoit.com Freddi Lee

    This is, by far, one of my favorite debates. However, you are very correct in stating that each one is actually targeting a different audience. Open source is inherently more lax in security features, whereas proprietary is often the opposite. However, this creates a catch 22, in that because of this, businesses are more apt to use proprietary systems, which are then more likely to become the targets of hacking attempts. But, with programs like OpenOffice, the users are simply looking for a free solution to meet their most basic of needs. Like you said, they are two completely different target audiences. Great points!

  • Nick jones

    Honestly this article is really not that informative especially concerning FOSS, the benefits of using Open Source Software are far greater than just simple cost savings. Free software as in Free speech not price as RMS would say, is a completely new development structure connecting people from all over the world to lead the world in technological advancement and in the process creating numerous technology's and applications with security, stability,usability and freedom of choice that anyone can use, develop and be a part of. Simply put Open Source is a beautiful thing and can only benefit everyone involved. Look at the list of the top ten web sites/companies and everyone one of them with the exception of Microsoft is almost completely using Open source products. Linux has so many advantages to Windows even in a business environment its not even funny, there is no better platform for web development, programming or networking/servers. Linux unlike microsoft was built from the ground up with a much better architecture and with much better security and can run on anything and do any task without additional licenses or costs. Open source is almost always much more secure and updated because it has a much much bigger dev base "All bugs are shallow with enough eyes looking" and a much better security platform from the ground up. This is not socialism it's Freedom, in giving the end users full control of their software and without being locked in to a single vendors products. Yes I truly am biased.

  • FrancisBenton

     I agree that each has their place but open source has been having a lot of issues lately. If you store anything personal online, open source is not recommended. In the education industry, we are hearing more and more that a custom software is necessary. School personnel do not have time to deal with hackers or attorneys. By using a good school CMS, you can still manage everything without knowing html or programming language.

  • http://www.mailenable.com/features/web-mail.asp PeterSullivan

    Well I am totally agree with this. Most of the open source company are trusted. be as I said it is necessary to all the user to make sure the software is trust worthy. Well open sources software are competitor to paid software.