Open Source software is one of those “techy” terms that gets dropped in business spaces without much explanation. What exactly does Open Source mean anyway? If it sounds kind of vague or confusing, don’t worry. The actual concept is pretty simple.
Much like the name suggests, this type of software is often available in its native source code form at no, or little, cost to end users - unlike traditionally licensed software. Users can access the code and make changes or even use it as a foundation to build new or customized software programs. This model is the opposite of closed source applications like Microsoft Windows, macOS X, and iOS. With closed source software, you pay for a license to use it but you can’t really get up close and personal with the code.
The source code for open source software is available through a license, which may or may not require a purchase. It’s important to understand that it's the source code that’s free, not necessarily the software itself. The name “open source” sometimes leads people to believe the whole product is free, which isn’t always the case. In other words, there’s free software and there’s open source software, but they’re not always one and the same.
Open source software is popular for developers and programmers because it provides a starting point for innovation, collaboration, and new programs. While giving away the source code for free may sound counterintuitive, the open source industry is now a billion-dollar industry, set to reach $30B in global revenues by 2022.
3 Main Benefits to Open Source Software for SMBs
Ok, so open source software is like candy for geeks (we mean that in a loving way, of course), but who else would want to use it? Good question. Contrary to popular belief, the software isn’t just suitable for techy pursuits; it’s also beneficial to small-to-medium-sized businesses as well.
Businesses often use open source software to reduce costs, achieve greater customization, and drive innovation. While the benefits are aplenty, here are three key advantages for the SMB market.
Many closed-source programs can be overloaded with excess features most users never touch. This creates a compelling case for a Small Business to explore application specific open-source software packages, focusing on features they really need and are most likely free. For example, digital.com recently shared a list of 101 open source apps to help a small business thrive - ranging from email service to accounting. Likewise, businesses can customize the programs to meet their requirements without having to pay their IT vendor for an upgrade or paying licensing fees.
Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
On the whole, open source software costs less to own than closed source software. In fact, 30% of IT leadership interviewed for RedHat’s The State of Enterprise Open Source report 2020 listed lower total cost of ownership as a key benefit of open source. And that’s even when you factor in potential development, storage, and running costs that are potentially involved in the total cost of ownership.
You would think that an open-sourced software product could be more exposed to potential threats, and in some ways, that assumption is accurate. Vulnerabilities within the source code are readily available for hackers to exploit. However, in many instances, the open source software community is an active one - loaded with passionate enthusiasts who are always on the lookout for potential issues. Nonetheless, it is prudent to practice smart use of open source components. This involves acknowledgment of the security risks involved in using these components in your applications and proactive action to minimize the chances of any potential security risks. It is imperative that users follow good hygiene and stick to popular applications that have a strong, active community with vigilance around security.
To get started with open source software, decide what your priorities are. Are you looking to cut costs, build new customer experiences, or maybe protect your business from outside threats? Selecting one target goal can help you narrow down where to begin and avoid analysis paralysis. If you’re already using a platform to meet this goal, it’s time to hunt for alternatives. This list from CIO is a great resource for finding open source software programs, broken down by type.
Rethinking Zoom? A Better Option for Data Security
Amidst the new normal of COVID-19, most of us are working from home at least some of the time these days. With remote work becoming more commonplace, businesses are looking for ways to encourage collaboration. Unfortunately, all that collaborating may make you a bigger target for security threats, particularly if you’re hopping on the Zoom train. The potential consequences range from embarrassing (Zoom-bombing) to downright creepy (leaked emails and social media accounts).
In a time where profit margins are slim, few businesses can afford to have their private data or their customers’ data exposed. Thankfully, there are options for collaboration that prioritize security and keep your data away from prying eyes. Nextcloud Talk was designed for privacy, with full self-hosting as well as built-in GDPR, CCPA, and EU ePrivacy regulation compliance.
Nextcloud Talk is easy on the eyes too with a seamless, intuitive user interface. You can easily share files, collaborate with colleagues, and create automated workflows on the fly. For additional security, bring your data home (and keep it there) with AmberPRO. The all-in-one solution has built-in storage with dual hard disk drives (yay uber-protected data) and is just plain ol’ user friendly. AmberPRO hits that sweet spot of convenience and security; you can access your data remotely from anywhere while keeping it safe with end-to-end encryption, File Access Control, authentication protection and ransomware recovery. You’ll sleep easy knowing your business’s data is safe and accessible to the right users from anywhere via AmberCloud.
And you don’t have to worry about dealing with the painful configuration that comes along with setting up custom configurations on various hardware platforms. This is where AmberPRO can help boost your bottom line. With AmberPro, you can install, configure, and upgrade Nextcloud in just a few clicks, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming IT support.
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