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Open Source vs. Closed Source (Proprietary) Software
is also known as :
Best Open Source
Best Open Source Software
Open Source Alternatives
Open Source Application
Open Source Business
Open Source Business Model
Open Source Community
Open Source Companies,
Open Source Content,
Open Source Content Management,
Open Source Content Management System,
Open Source Content Manager,
Open Source Development,
Open Source Document Management,
Open Source Examples,
Open Source Library Software,
Open Source Model,
Open Source OSS,
Open Source Presentation,
Open Source Programs,
Open Source Project,
Open Source Project Management,
Open Source Project Management Tool,
Open Source Project Manager,
Open Source Projects,
Open Source Reporting,
Open Source Software,
Open Source Software Development,
Open Source Software List.
"There has been considerable discussion and debate with
regards to the pros and cons of open source and closed source
software. Understanding the benefits and pitfalls of both types of
applications can help you make a more informed decision when
it comes to the development of your next website."
– Sam Saltis
The aim of this report is to provide a greater understanding of the
differences between open source and closed source (proprietary) software, and
the advantages and disadvantages of each to enable a more informed decision
making process when it comes to choosing between the two.
The main issues that have been raised surrounding the debate include cost,
service and support, innovation, usability, and security. As such, this report
will analyse open source and closed source software with reference to these
1. Open Source Software
Open source software can be defined as software distributed under a licensing
agreement which allows the source code (computer code) to be shared, viewed and
modified by other users and organisations.
Open source software is free. This is a huge draw card, and if your in-house
capabilities are such that you are able to implement, train and support at
little cost to your organization it may be an attractive option.
Having said that, open source software requires a certain level of technical
expertise in order to manage content. It is therefore important to take into
consideration the costs incurred once the software is obtained may be
substantial unless the resources are already in place to manage it.
Long term costs include the cost of implementation, innovation, the
opportunity cost incurred battling with service/support issues, and the costs
associated with investment in infrastructure due to a general inability to scale
(assuming the organisation will grow and develop and will therefore have
Notably, open source software providers are increasingly charging for addons,
additional services and integration.
The total cost of ownership for open source software may roughly equal some
closed source options as a result.
1.2. Service and Support
Service is one of the key issues regarding open source software. Open source
software relies on its online community network to deliver support via forums
and blogs. While there are massive, loyal and engaged online communities that
users can turn to, time-poor consumers of today are familiar with the immediate
service and support that enables issues to be resolved in a timely manner, and
these communities cannot guarantee the high level of responsive service and
support proprietary software can offer.
Open source software enables innovation by providing users with the freedom
and flexibility to adapt the software to suit, without restriction.
However, innovation may or may not be passed on to all users of the software.
It is a user’s prerogative whether they wish to share their innovation with any
online communities, and users must be actively participating in these
communities to become aware of such innovations.
It has been debated whether customized changes to the original source code
limit the future support and growth of the software, as these can potentially
result in a limited ability to apply future updates, fixes or modules aimed at
improving the software, leaving the user with a version that may have
It is relevant to note that open source software providers generally struggle
to attract large scale research and development (R&D).
Open source software has been highly criticized for its lack of usability, as
generally, the technology is not reviewed by usability experts and does not
cater to the vast majority of computer users.
Open source software is generally developer-centric, and without system
administration experience or the knowledge required to manipulate programming
language, use of the software and ability to fix errors as they arise is often
limited to those with technical expertise.
Furthermore, open source software does not legally require documentation such
as user manuals or guides, hindering the creation of such tools. When
documentation is provided, it is often general, containing implicit jargon,
inhibiting learning. Without adequate documentation users must rely on
alternative means such as online communities, assuming they are capable of
finding them and the problem is one others have encountered or are willing to
These obstacles are deterrents, but are not insurmountable.
Open source software is often viewed as having security issues. New data from
Forrester Research has shown that 58% of Information
Technology (IT) Executives and technology decision makers in large
companies are concerned about the security of open source software.
Open source software is not necessarily developed in a controlled
environment. While big players often have a concentrated development team,
oftentimes the software is being developed by individuals all over the world who
may not work on the software for the duration of its developing lifetime.
This lack of continuity and common direction can lead to barriers to
effective communication surrounding the software.
Furthermore, open source software is not always peer reviewed or validated
for use. While users are free to examine and verify source code, the level of
expertise required means that it is entirely possible for a programmer to embed
back door Trojans to capture private and confidential information without the
user ever knowing.
Adopting a reputable brand with a concentrated development team supported by
a strong online community will reduce the potential risk.
2. Closed Source Software
Closed source software can be defined as proprietary software distributed
under a licensing agreement to authorized users with private modification,
copying and republishing restrictions.
The cost of proprietary software will vary from a few thousand to a few
hundred thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the system required.
This cost is made up of a base fee for software, integration and services and
annual licensing/support fees.
This cost may be prohibitive for some; however what the user is paying for is
a more customized product from a trusted brand that includes higher levels of
security and functionality, continuous innovation, a greater ability to scale,
ongoing training and support and a lower requirement for technical skills.
In order to support these elements and maintain high availability websites, a
mechanism must be in place to recoup the costs.
As mentioned previously, increasingly open source software providers are also
charging for add-ons, additional services, and integration, reducing the gap in
cost between the two options.
2.2. Service and Support
If the internet is an important channel for an organisation, software is
often a secondary concern, with service level and support structure requirements
taking precedent in favour of maximising uptime and minimising downtime.
Service is probably the greatest advantage of using proprietary software.
Proprietary software providers offer ongoing support to users, a key selling
point for users without technical expertise.
If the user manual or guide is not enough, or if a user experiences a problem
with the software, there is an immediate point of call to turn to for
There is a certain reduction in the risk undertaken with proprietary software
because users are working with companies that are viable, and people with
intimate knowledge of the products and services being used should any questions
Because service is one of the main reasons users choose proprietary over open
source software, many proprietary software providers compete on service,
increasing the bargaining power of buyers and thereby increasing customer
service levels among providers.
Proprietary software providers do not allow users to view or alter the source
code. While this may be viewed as a disadvantage to some, it ensures the
security and reliability of the software. Furthermore, many proprietary software
providers customize software for specific users to provide more flexibility
while investing in R&D in order to regularly offer new products and upgrades.
Moreover, proprietary software providers have online user communities that
create value by sharing ideas, strategies and best practices through feedback
mechanisms such as forums and surveys, which also foster innovation and allow
the product to adapt with changing needs.
This innovation comes fully tested, and is available to all users of the
It does not require investment in R&D or the technical understanding of
source code, and assistance with implementation is generally part of the
Because vendors must ensure their software does not become redundant, users
also benefit from the type of targeted innovation undertaken- continuous
investment in R&D rather than “innovation for innovation’s sake”, business
focused rather than technology focused.
Proprietary software generally employs expert usability testing, and as the
software is normally aimed at a more targeted audience, and therefore more
tailored, usability is generally ranked quite high.
In addition, detailed user manuals and guides are provided. This enables
faster training and provides an immediate reference, allowing users to move
along the learning curve more quickly.
Supporting services include seminars, targeted training courses and extensive
support to help maximise use of the software.
It is also important to note that while many people see proprietary software
as “closed”, today’s proprietary software offers a vast array of mechanisms for
enhancement by third party systems and developers.
Proprietary software is viewed as more secure because it is developed in a
controlled environment by a concentrated team with a common direction.
Moreover, the source code may be viewed and edited by this team alone, and is
heavily audited, eliminating the risk of back door Trojans and reducing the risk
of any bugs or issues with the software.
3. Where does coreDNA fit in?
coreDNA is one of the leading proprietary enterprise level website management
platforms. Built from the ground up with a focus on business outcomes, coreDNA
helps organisations build their brands online.
Our software, infrastructure and support are what set us apart from the rest.
coreDNA’s flexible, modular architecture allows enhancements to be made and
new features to be launched quickly, as needed. The same technology is deployed
across websites, intranets, extranets and micro-sites, allowing for use across
multiple channels. With a strong focus on R&D, continuous innovation is passed
on to all of our customers as part of the package.
Using the latest in virtualized Cloud-based infrastructure, coreDNA can scale
for even the most demanding websites, delivering enterprise level performance
without the need for capital investment.
Moreover, coreDNA comes as a complete package with ongoing comprehensive
training and support from our highly qualified staff, available 24/7 globally.
When deciding between open source or closed source (proprietary) software, it
is critical to first consider the organization’s business internal (resources
and capabilities) and external (stable or evolving) environment, and the level
of risk the organization is willing to take. The aforementioned issues can then
be used as a guide to make an informed decision between the two.