What Value Does Open Source Have For Business?
What value does open source have for businesses? According to Simon Phipps, plenty.
In a recent blog post he pinpoints four ways in which open sourcing a project, can lead to business success.
The first, lies in the fact that open source software can be used for any purpose, which means that anyone can work out a solution they're experiencing with the code. This independence makes open source software more attractive to the user, and will encourage customers to opt for your business over the closed competition. Secondly, open sourcing a project exposes it to the vibrant world of open source tooling and consultants, and software that's open sourced can spread rapidly throughout the community due to the inherent freedom to pass it on to anyone. This increases adoption, and can create a buzz around your product.
There is also added reassurance when a company open sources a project because, even if they pull the plug on support in the future, independent developers can continue working on the code. There's also the possibility of another company stepping in and taking charge of the abandoned project. The aftermath of Oracle's acquisition of Sun is a perfect example of this, with ForgeRock pledging to continue the development of Sun's OpenSSO access management and federation server platform, under the new brand of OpenAM. There have also been calls for the community to fork OpenSolaris. The inherent reassurance that an open source project will always be moving forward - as long as there's one person out there interested in developing it - makes this sort of software attractive to the consumer.
“When software users are deciding which suppliers to deal with, they need to know whether their software freedoms are being respected and cultivated,” writes Phipps. Clearly, open source is a big draw for customers and, whatever can potentially increase your customer base, has got to be worth some serious consideration.