Businesses have been adopting open source software solutions rapidly and you start to wonder if you should do the same. Is it really a safer, better option for your organization? If you’re working with designing and developing websites, and web-based applications, you may have at one point consider going open source for your project. Though many may have thought that open means free – it is not entirely so, but it costs lesser than commercially-licensed solutions out there. Surely, there are benefits to be had if you clearly understand just how ‘open’ these technologies are and if you ask these vendors the right questions. The last thing you want is getting pitched for something disappointing. More likely, it’s what people call as open washing. Think of it this way: just because you bought your favorite snack with “natural” claims doesn’t really mean it’s healthy for you. So, how do you sort out the confusion when it comes to dealing with your vendor?
Questions You Should Be Asking Before Adopting Open Source Technologies
1. Who are Using It Right Now?
The easiest way for you to know if the product is of top-notch quality is to evaluate testimonials and reviews of people or businesses who are using it right now. Are they raving about it? No one may want to be the first to try out something new, so if many are committed to working with this open source software, it’s a surefire sign that it’s out to stay for the long haul.
2. Will the Software Meet My Needs?
You need to assess the compatibility of this open source software with your current OS. Do you need to install applications to make it all work? Does the solution meet your pressing needs? Have you tried testing the application first before you go on a full scale roll out? Can your hardware meet the specifications of these new technologies?
3. Are People Talking About This Software?
It’s easy to check the Web when it comes to searching for online conversations about a certain open source software. You can even type in the name on Google Search box and click on discussions to see what people have been talking about. Normally, creators of these open-source software run their own forums and having lots of active users is a good sign that these developers are committed to helping their community of users.
4. Who is Funding the Project?
A lot of open source technologies are on beta mode and it gives you some peace of mind knowing that the developers have financial resources to ensure that they won’t run out of business anytime soon. There are open source applications that are backed and used by big companies, and this means that they are committed in the success of this project.
5. How Involved are Users with Developing the Process?
When people want to contribute to make a positive code change to the project, or when they are promoting by word-of-mouth – it’s something worth watching. We know that passion is the key ingredient to success and the same thing applies with the creation and maintenance of open source software. It’s a work of love and people share this love.
Because you buy only what you need, you’re not held hostage by complex software bundles that can run your business dry. And when you do choose running this option for your project, make sure that you can try before you buy, that you can look into the code and that you can apply changes on the code.
In short, make sure that you get what you paid for.
*** Here’s more on the topic: Debunking the Open-Source Myth