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  • May 3, 2014


4 open-source software questions enterprise clients ask

When you work with open-source software, you are so close to it, it’s hard to understand why everyone isn’t using it. Still there are some people that need convincing. When speaking with new potential clients we often get the same questions,

Is open-source software less secure?

Absolutely not. The truth is, closed software can be less secure than open-source software. It really depends on the community around the software. If you have a strong energetic community around your open-source software, like WordPress and Magento does, then more often than not someone else will find bugs in the software, before you will. When you have millions and millions of installations around the globe and a good reporting mechanism in place to collect issues, open-source software is just as secure, if not more so, than closed enterprise software solutions.

Is open-source software less professional, because it’s built by people that don’t get paid?

Actually, open-source software developers DO get paid, though they may not get paid the way you think. Most open-source software developers are writing code for their clients. This is to improve the software for a particular client or add a new feature that the client has requested. By the nature of many open-source licenses, that code that was created, must remain open-source as well. Sometimes that code gets folded into the core programming of the open-source software or the organization that manages the open-source software rewrites it as a new core feature down the road. All in all, that code has to work and it has to work well, because either someone paid for it or the company that wrote it, is expecting to get paid for it.

Is open-source software easy to hack, because people have access to the code?

Again, this goes back to the community around the software and the motivation of the hacker. Microsoft is by far the most hacked software on the planet because most computers run Microsft software than anything else, yet people are still buying computers with Microsoft software installed. Hackers most often will try to cast the widest net. It doesn’t matter if your software is closed or open, if it’s popular, you will be targeted. So, then it brings up the community around the software and how quickly they react to threats and exploits. The larger open-source software communities like WordPress and Magento, are very quick to respond to hacks and typically have a solution ready shortly after an exploit has been revealed.

Is open-source software never updated, because it’s free?

It’s quite the opposite. In larger open-source software communities, updates can be relentless. Some have more controlled, but larger releases, bundling many new features, upgrades and security fixes, into one update. Open-source software is always evolving and improving, there is no shortage of updates.

The business model of open-source software is quite simple. Designers, developers and programmers make money off of open-source software by making the software better for its clients and the clients save money by not having to build out that infrastructure from scratch. There is precedent for this, for example, homes that are built today, don’t have to mill the wood on site, forge the nails before they’re used or manufacture the appliances before they are installed. Everything is already done and delivered to the job site ready to go. That’s where the customization starts, the flooring, paint and furniture can all be assembled to your specifications. Want to add a room, blow out a wall or remove a ceiling? Go ahead, make it yours and add that unique feature that you come up with. Open-source software is the foundation and what you assemble on top of that is only limited to your imagination.

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