6 Reasons to Try Open Source

1: Open Source Saves Money

This debate needs to finally be put to bed. Study after study has been done–some of which are sponsored studies by invested parties -but the truth of the matter is both initial and ongoing costs will be  lower if you go with open source. Many of the past studies pointed to one main idea that is, really for the most part, no longer relevant – cost associated with training users. Here’s the big thing, ninety percent of what employees do now is done within a web browser. Gotta’ face the facts, most workplace users today could get by with a Chromebook and still be able to get their job done. No one needs to be trained on how to use Firefox or Chrome. Furthermore, if your employees have to be trained on how to use web-based software, the platform won’t matter anyway.

When you add to this the considerable cost you’ll save on your company’s backbone (server OS and software), the savings really start building up. Besides, on the server side, you’re probably going to be using open source anyway. You can’t get away from it now. So, when you know opting for CentOS or SUSE as your server OS could save you tens of thousands of dollars in licensing costs, why would you go any other way? Ask any admin who has worked with Linux servers, and you’ll find those servers need MUCH less maintenance and upkeep than the competitor’s solutions.

2: Fewer Headaches

When working with a proprietary network, one of the biggest pains that will drain your IT budget and your productivity is system cleaning. With enough employees, the IT guys can quickly get up to their necks with malware and virus cleanup requests. When you use open-source platforms (such as Linux), this won’t be the case. Though there are plenty of naysayers who will argue against using Linux on a desktop, imagine how your bottom line would be if productivity was almost never halted by malware or viruses? I’m not saying that productivity will double, triple or never be put on hold, but you’ll see a noticeable reduction in your down time. Your IT guys can then focus on what’s really important to your company, such as servers, networks, and network security.

3: Try Before You Buy

With almost every imaginable piece of open-source software, you can try it out before you invest either of your time or money into a single piece of software. Even the operating systems themselves! You can download an image of a Linux system and run it without making any changes to your PC (called a Live CD). You can download almost every Linux distribution there is, try them all out, and then make your choice based on that experience -all without having to install a single thing. And with most open-source web-based programs (such as CMS, CRM and HRM tools), there are demonstrations to try or even virtual images you can fire up in VirtualBox (again, without having to install anything). A great place to find new virtual appliances to try is Turnkey Linux. Turnkey lets you to easily test systems such as GitLab, LAMP Stack, SugarCRM, OwnCloud, Orange HRM, and many more.

4: Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

When you’re working with proprietary operating systems like Windows or Apple, you work how you’re told to work. If you want Windows or OS X, you are stuck using their interfaces and adhering to how they dictate. But, if you work with open source software, you work your way. If you don’t like the way something looks or acts, you change it and keep working. If you don’t like the default user desktop that ships with Ubuntu, use a different one. With respect to customizing open source, there are almost no limitations. This is YOUR business, and you should be able to make the technology conform to YOUR preferences and requirements -not the other way around. With open source, that’s the norm.

5: You’re Not Really Doing Anything New

Think about this… enterprise-level companies are already depending on open source software. They aren’t just going to try open source with various and sundry open-source projects -they depend on an array of open-source programs to keep them up and running. We’re talking big data, and it doesn’t get any larger than that. A lot of start-ups that consider the open-source path think they are an island in a sea. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Nearly everything you are considering doing has been done with open source and done with great success. Familiar companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter -all of which place the backbone functionality of their business on open-source software. If they can do it, so can you. And when you’re not quite sure of how to proceed, you just need to follow their examples. Check them out at Google’s open-source blog or Facebook’s open-source projects.

6: You Will Have to Overcome a Few Hurdles to Try Open Source

Realistically it won’t be 100% smooth sailing (but almost nothing is in the world of business). If you have employees that don’t work out of a web browser, you might end up with file incompatibilities. For example, you might have clients that send you MS Word or MS Excel documents that rely on some odd extended features. You might figure out that LibreOffice or Google Docs won’t quite “translate” those features with complete accuracy. When that happens, what can you do? You might actually have to pay for ONE Office 365 license for that particular employee. Or, what if you have an old piece of proprietary software your business needs?

Here’s the deal… you don’t have to plunge in to the open-source pool and never come up for air. There’s nothing wrong with mixing up the environment. If you can’t do business without a particular program, then you might have to make an exception. The great thing about open source software is that it plays well with a huge majority of exceptions. You drop a Windows 7 machine on to your network, and nothing will blow up or snitch to the “open-source police”. The good thing is that an overwhelming majority of employees don’t take advantage of the advanced features of MS Office that tend to hinder compatibility with open-source alternatives.

Sound interesting?

Give us a shout at 612-276-2308 and we can start to steer you in the right direction to saving time and money when you try open source software.