Open-Source Software vs. Proprietary Software: Being in Two Minds While Weighing All Pros and Cons
Open-Source Software vs. Proprietary Software
Whether you are leading a startup or ruling a company that has been staying afloat for many years, working in the IT sphere or entering the real estate industry, it doesn’t matter at what point your business is because you will surely search for some applications to use. We are using different types of software in our daily life as well, so it’s hard to imagine that you can run a business without using at least one. Some companies turn to custom developed solutions that are made from scratch or just use the ready-for-use applications, while others find free products that can be customized to their needs.
There are many options, and when looking for the one and only, you will come to the point when you can’t choose between open-source software and proprietary software. Of course, it all depends on your business strategy, goals, and the overall resources you have. To make the right choice, you need to know what these technologies are, their major differences, as well as the advantages and disadvantages they carry. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at these details in today’s article.
Free-to-Use Solution or Copyrighted Option with Limited Flexibility
Before deciding on which software to go for, it is vital to understand what they are exactly. Both options are popular among developers, and the debate about which one to go for arises quite often. They have various features and offer different ways of usage.
If talking about the open-source software, this is the one that is available for free to anyone and is usually managed by an open-source community of developers. But, you have to understand that not all free software is open source.
The difference is that the source code of this technology is open to the public and can be modified as needed. You are also free to use the documentation provided by the original creators to understand what you can do with the software. Thus, you are able to study the particular features and use them for your own benefit. Open-source software can be licensed or nor licensed. Some of the popular examples are Chromium, WordPress, Apache, Magento Open Source, Ubuntu, and others.
During the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), it is the job of developers to ensure that a client has all the relevant functionality and the data is secured when they use proprietary software. Both insider and outside threats can occur, which is why the source code of this software is protected and is not available to the public. Only the company that owns it can perform modifications. In order to use this technology, users are required to buy a valid and authenticated license, which can be bought from the original developer.
Considering that such software is the owner’s intellectual property that has legal protections and requires purchasing, you need to understand that it is limited in modifications, code access, and implementation of upgrades. This type can be purchased one time or by using the subscription model, also known as SaaS (Software as a Service), depending on the publisher’s use conditions. Some of the remarkable examples of proprietary software and technologies are Slack, Adobe Photoshop, Windows OS, macOS, Microsoft Office, Skype, and others.
Open-Source Software vs. Proprietary Software: A Close Comparison
To be able to pick the right option when you are looking for a company that can provide you with the software development services or if you are thinking about building your own application and choosing between open-source and proprietary options, it is essential to define their differences. You need to look at the advantages of these two choices as well as know of their disadvantages to make the right decision, so let’s look at these vital details.
Benefits of using open-source software
As we mentioned earlier, this software is free to try, use, and modify. It is also important to point out that usually it has fewer bugs and faster implementation of patches or updates. Overall, it is considered to have better security and simpler license management. There are no IP restrictions, and you can always get access to the documentation or community forums.
Drawbacks of using open-source software
Despite the attractive positive side of choosing open-source technology, you have to pay attention to the downsides as well. First of all, you may run into compatibility issues. It is possible that you will need a pack of certain drivers to be able to use this software and especially to modify it.
After choosing open-source software, you can notice that the accessibility to documentation and community forums can be a drawback for your business. Sometimes, it can be hard to find the answer to a technical issue that you have with software, which can cost you money and resources. That is why many of those companies that use such a class of technology hire technical specialists that can find the solution and deal with a problem faster. If talking more about the hidden costs, you may also need to spend your resources on additional hardware, training, support, maintenance, and so on, so you should be ready for this.
Benefits of using proprietary software
Bearing in mind that this is a paid software, you can expect it to be developed as user-friendly and easy-to-use as possible without having the need to consult with the manual. Both front-end development and back-end development processes are performed on the highest level of quality, because software is intended to have a wider range of functionality and better customer support. Offering software or technology for commercial use, companies make sure that their product has high product stability. Otherwise, what is the point of buying it? After paying the license fee, you will have complete ownership over this software.
Drawbacks of using proprietary software
While a wider range of functionality may seem to be a useful feature for you, don’t be too tempted. When you encounter the need to modify the app according to your goals, you will find yourself coming up against a brick wall. And if you ask the original owner for the customization, you will have to pay extra. Besides that, this software is often limited to a single device or network, which means that additional cost will be spent on another copy if you want more than one. Due to the inability to redistribute this type of technology, you are not able to share it if you don’t have the permission from the creator. Also, you should be ready that EULA (End-User License Agreement) and TOS (Terms of Services) can be quite complex.
Open-Source vs. Proprietary Software: Which One Is a Better Choice?
The answer is simple, it depends. To make your lucky choice, you should not only look at the strengths and weaknesses of each software type but also define project dependencies that will influence your decision. All in all, consider the following factors:
- Project scope and timeline
If you have limited time and need only a few simple features, then you can turn to the proprietary software. It will suit your goals perfectly, improve the results of the product development, and decrease most of the stress factors for your team. On the other hand, if you have plenty of time for your project and have several ideas in your mind that you want to implement, open-source software development may be the better choice. Thus, you will be able to customize the solution to your needs and meet the requirements at your pace.
This is another vital factor to think about. Choosing proprietary technology can be ideal in case you have a significant amount of money. It has more features, which is why it can be expensive. So, if you are ready to pay more and get more, this is your option. As for the open-source technology, it requires a much lower budget, which can be perfect for the situation when your team has limited resources.
Many choices have been given to people, which is why it can be difficult to cover everything and be completely sure that you picked the right option. There are no right choices, because it all depends on many factors. So, if two-thirds of your choice between open-source and proprietary software suits your business strategy, plans, resources, and team needs, you made the best one.