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Open Source Vs Proprietary - Which Type of IT Solution Is Best For Your Business

Open Source Vs Proprietary - Which Type of IT Solutions Is Best For Your Business

It’s a no-brainer. Acquire the solution that is the only solution available. Especially if you have the budget for it and its benefits are crucial to your business. However, what if there are two or more equally attractive options? Oftentimes, the options belong to one of two camps - open source and proprietary. Which one is best for your business?

It’s important to identify the advantages of each camp before you start choosing, because a lot of the problems you can encounter later on are simply due to misconceptions about these two families of software.

There are now many grey areas in the market. For example, a proprietary solution also exposes a substantial, but not total, part of its source code to the public. In this article, we’ll only be focusing our discussions on traditional open source solutions and traditional proprietary solutions.

Let’s begin.

Known advantages of open source

First, let’s highlight the major benefits for which open source is known.

Lower Total Cost of Acquisition

Lower Total Cost of Acquisition

To most IT customers, open source is usually perceived to be free. That’s not entirely true. Generally speaking, what is free is the licence only — you know, that document that grants you the right to use whatever software is covered by that particular licence.

So, because an open source licence would typically allow you to use, modify and share the software without imposing any financial obligation on your part, the total cost of acquisition (TCA) of an open source software can be relatively minimal compared to its proprietary counterparts.

Savings in licencing costs can be very substantial, especially if you’re talking about enterprise-grade solutions. Enterprise-class proprietary solutions can run up to 5 or 6 figures, because many of them charge on a per-host or per-user basis. So, if you need to install a proprietary software on tens or hundreds of machines, the difference in cost (i.e. zero against £100,000 or even just £10,000) can certainly be a compelling reason to select an open source alternative.

More customisable, extensible

The ‘open’ in open source refers to the source code. That means, you could actually view (and modify) the software application’s source code if you wanted to. This alone has countless benefits, including the ability to customise the application to suit your specific needs/requirements for any business with skilled in-house developers.

Proprietary solutions normally don’t share their source code, so you’re restricted to their built-in functionalities and capabilities. Although some applications are able to provide some degree of extensibility through APIs, the flexibility you get from a fully open source solution is still substantially greater.

Open for scrutiny

Source code review

Because the source code is open, it is readily available for review. This can be very beneficial from a security standpoint. That means, security specialists can study and scrutinise the code and identify any vulnerabilities that may be present.

Better integration capabilities

Better integration capabilities

Lastly, if its source code is visible and customisable, an application will lend itself better to integrations. Meaning, you can easily connect it to other existing applications in your network and multiply the benefits each solution can provide individually.

The truth about the costs of proprietary solutions

proprietary solutions

Proprietary solutions are generally perceived to be more expensive than their open source counterparts, whose TCAs, as mentioned earlier, are almost zero. This has been one of the major reasons why some companies choose open source alternatives.

However, when you acquire a piece of software, your costs won’t end with the purchase. The solution will incur costs throughout its lifetime. So you need to factor these in if you really want a complete picture of a solution’s affordability.

Let me explain.

Integration costs

Integration costs

Some of the costs of software reveal themselves when you start integrating the newly acquired solution to other existing solutions on your network. While open source solutions are theoretically more ‘integratable’ from a technical standpoint, that advantage will only hold if you have someone with the required skill set in-house to carry out the integrations.

If you don’t, that advantage could slowly erode. Finding the required talent outside of your organisation is much harder if you’re using an open source solution than if you’re using a proprietary one. If you’re using a proprietary solution, it’s possible that the company developing the solution is already equipped to assist you with that integration.

The necessary talent is even harder to find if the solution is more specialised. If that happens, any capable professional you’ll find who can do the job for you will likely charge high professional fees.

Cost of unresolved issues

Cost of unresolved issues

Other costs emerge once you encounter difficulties or issues. A lot of the open source solutions out there provide support mainly through ‘communities’. While some software communities consist of very helpful members, these members aren’t bound by any service level agreement (SLA). That means, they might only reply during their free time. Thus, if the issue you need resolved is mission critical and affects your business operations, you could suffer a considerable amount of downtime that could in turn result in huge revenue loss.

Proprietary solutions usually have a dedicated tech support team to assist you in troubleshooting and resolving issues or requesting for patches when bugs are found. Some companies even offer 24x7 support, so you can get the help you need at any time. Although higher levels of support will naturally charge a fee, you’ll likely be happy to pay for it than go through a lengthy (and more costly) downtime.

An alternative would be to hire an IT support company that has proven experience and expertise with the solution you need help with. Just make sure you’re dealing with a trustworthy and reputable firm.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership (than what is generally perceived)

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

All the above arguments mean that while proprietary solutions generally provide a much higher TCA, their total cost of ownership (TCO) can still be on par with open source in the end.

This is an important point because it debunks the myth that open source solutions are more affordable. In the long run, you could end up spending just about the same on either option. To clarify, this isn’t an advantage of proprietary. But it’s worth pointing out because, let’s face it, cost considerations are a key factor in purchase/acquisition decisions.

So, which is better — Open Source or Proprietary?

Ok, so we now know that open source and proprietary solutions cost about the same in the long run. But what about the other advantages of open source outlined earlier, like extensibility and customisability? You certainly can’t find those in proprietary.

That’s true. However, you should note that those advantages will only matter if the benefits are really substantial and worth the associated costs. For all you know, the APIs provided by the proprietary alternative will already suffice.

So if we really break it down, choosing between open source and proprietary all boils down to what your company is more comfortable with and more capable of handling. You can start by auditing your in-house talent. If they’re more attuned to a proprietary solution, then you choose proprietary. If they’re more familiar with the open source alternative, then go for that. If you really don’t have the talent for either one, hire a reputable IT support company.

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Beware the Growing Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Threat

Beware the Growing Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Threat

A new IT security threat is infecting computers across the globe, and it could be wreaking havoc on your organisation’s devices as you read this post. This malware threat uses a computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency, without the knowledge or consent of the owner.

Unauthorised cryptocurrency mining–or cryptojacking, as it is commonly called, is spreading like wildfire. This is not surprising, given how simple it is for cryptojacking scripts to infiltrate a computer. Hackers can initiate it using one of two methods:

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822 Hits

5 Office 365 Features That Can Help You Maintain GDPR Compliance

5 Office 365 Features That Can Help You Maintain GDPR Compliance

We all witnessed the flurry of activity that led up to May 25, 2018; the date on which GDPR became enforceable. Organisations and businesses of all types made a gargantuan effort to ensure compliance. However, GDPR compliance is not a one-off effort.

GDPR compliance involves ongoing, but difficult to enforce, habits covering the responsible use and the protection of your customer data. Most resource-pressed businesses will benefit from whatever resources are available. Enter Office 365.

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778 Hits

When Would You Need an IT Audit?

When Would You Need an IT Audit

With the onset of new technologies, most organisations have come to rely heavily on their IT practices and systems to ensure that operations are carried out with utmost efficiency. But how do corporate executives and business owners know that their IT system is effectively contributing to the company’s business objectives?

The careful consideration given to the acquisition of software assets or the upgrade of IT infrastructure is justified. However, less attention is devoted to evaluating if these investments are actually providing a positive return for the company. Perhaps more important than ascertaining whether IT resources are properly leveraged, is to ensure that the enterprise’s IT systems are reliable and secure enough to maintain the integrity of the company’s data and information assets. 

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ISO 27001 and How Accreditation Boosts Customer Confidence

ISO 27001 and How Accreditation Boosts Customer Confidence

The challenges of actively managing information security are growing, and every business, regardless of size, should pro-actively protect their systems and the data held within. But how do customers know that your information security practices are fit for purpose?

Even the best intentions do not guarantee sound security practices for businesses. The only way for customers to judge the internal processes of your business is by checking for accreditation such as ISO 27001. In fact, 71% of respondents to a 2016 survey by IT Governance Ltd said that they had fielded a question about ISO 27001 accreditation.

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Four Reasons Why Your Company Should Use Web Content Filtering

Company should use Web Content filtering

Web content filtering is typically supplied as part of broader cybersecurity measures, with most internet security appliances offering the option to enable filtering, and many default configurations enabling it from the outset. Yet as with many topics in information security IT personnel should never assume that content filtering features are active or optimised. In this article, we outline key reasons why content filtering is still so important, and briefly describe how to enable content filtering for your organisation.

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Three Effective Ways to Optimise Your IT Spending

Three Effective Ways to Optimise Your IT Spending

There is one area on which everyone concentrates when it comes to getting the most out of an IT budget: squeezing the supplier. Though getting commodity items at the best prices and achieving the most value out of the services and IT support costs you pay for is important, there are many other areas where careful consideration can result in far more optimal IT spending.

Deloitte’s 2016-2017 CIO survey found that, on average across all industries, expenditure on IT packages, staff and services accounts for 3.28% of a company’s turnover, with businesses in professional services industries commonly managing annual IT budgets of 6% of overall turnover. The importance of optimal spending is clearly very high. Here we outline a few of the top areas we think your business should focus on.

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1078 Hits

Hidden Costs of Not Upgrading - And What You Stand to Lose

Hidden Costs of Not Upgrading - And What You Stand to Lose

Technology expenditure is usually taken on in a reluctant manner: few businesses rush forward with adopting the latest technologies, instead deferring IT expenditure for as long as they can. Whether it is updating on-premise servers, migrating to the cloud or overhauling a creaking website – management teams tend to delay spending the funds for as long as possible. But is this wise? Are there hidden costs to squeezing the last bit of usage out of outdated technology?

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1588 Hits

14 Questions To Ask Before You Renew Your IT Support Contract

14 Questions To Ask Before You Renew Your IT Support Contract

You walk into your office tomorrow. Before you can get a cup of coffee, one of your managers tells you that your IT service contract is going to expire in two months.

You’ve been frustrated with poor service and technology for months. Now, you have an opportunity to improve the situation. Your IT manager stands at the ready with a few recommended IT service providers. Are you equipped to sort through the options and call them?

Before you sign on the dotted line to renew your IT service contract, go through these questions. Investing an hour today could save you months of effort, risk and frustration.

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Shadow IT - a threat or a benefit?

Shadow IT - a threat or a benefit?

Acceptable practice or unacceptable risk?

Shadow IT is the practice of using technology within a business without the knowledge or approval of the IT function.

This includes anything from a single employee using a low cost app, to an entire department, such as Project Management, adopting a cloud software application to support its Line of Business (LoB).

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1388 Hits
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