Open source software is a viable option for businesses and can deliver many benefits besides cost savings. But organizations must prepare for some challenges along the way.
That’s the word from a recent report on open source software commissioned by Amadeus IT Group, a transaction processing provider in the travel industry, and written by IT professor Jim Norton.
Open source software has evolved to the point where it now makes sense in even the most demanding and time-sensitive environments, according to the report. For example, the open source Apache web server is the most widely used system of its kind, and Amadeus’s own systems are built on open source technology.
Open source often gets a lot of attention because of the cost savings it can provide over proprietary software, but that’s not the only reason to consider it, according to Norton. Benefits of open source software for businesses include:
- Greater innovation – Open source projects are worked on by dedicated and diverse communities of developers, who pool their creativity together.
- Faster updates – Those developers also often make improvements and fix problems faster than commercial software companies.
- Wide support – The open nature of these systems also means applications can more easily be written to support a wide variety of the systems companies use, unlike proprietary software, which is often designed for one specific environment.
Overcoming open source challenges
Despite the benefits, switching to open source software has some challenges businesses will need to overcome. Here is Norton’s advice for companies making the move:
- Be realistic about costs – Organizations may not have to pay for licenses when using open source software, but money will still be spent on support, training, migrating data, and other areas. During the implementation, the IT department may need to increase staffing temporarily to avoid problems.
- Plan for the time it will take – Moving to open source also takes time, so organizations must make sure the migration won’t disrupt their normal operations. Being too optimistic about how long the transition period will last could cause problems for the company and its customers.
- Test the new system – Before fully moving to the new open source system, it’s important to test all processes to make sure everything runs smoothly.