Debunking the Myths About Open Source Technology

By Mayank Trivedi » 10 min read

Open Source technology has become popular as a low-cost replacement to proprietary software. Whether it is using Firefox to browse the internet or WordPress to publish your blog, more people are using Open Source software today without realizing it. However, even as Open Source is expanding its footprint, the myths surrounding it continues to grow. The concept of Open Source tends to make some people uneasy and it is often perceived as inferior in quality, security, and longevity in comparison to proprietary software, which is not true.

What Is Open Source Technology?

Open Source means that source code is available to its users at no charge. Users can modify and distribute the source code in their versions of the program. There is no limit to how many copies of the original program can be distributed. Simply put, Open Source software is software in which the source code used to create the program is freely available for the public to view, edit, and redistribute. The Open Source license encourages a shared community approach to the development, extension, and patching of Open Source software.

Examples of Opens Source Software

Any type of software program can be Open Source, including operating systems (e.g., Linux, Ubuntu), databases (e.g., PostgreSQL, MySQL), applications (e.g., OpenOffice.org), CRM suite like SugarCRM, OpenSSH & OpenSSL, Sendmail, DNS software like BIND, HTTP servers like Apache, programming languages (e.g., Python, PHP) and CMSs like WordPress, Joomla & Drupal.

8 Reasons to Choose Open Source

  • Lower cost
  • High Security
  • No vendor 'lock in'
  • Better quality
  • Transparency
  • Comprehensive support
  • Greater flexibility
  • Interoperability

8 Myths Surrounding Open Source Technology

The decision to invest in Open Source software is often riddled with hesitation and uncertainty. Let’s analyze the myths surrounding Open Source software and debunk them one by one.

Myth#1: Open Source Software Is Inferior Quality

Even though Open Source projects thrive through public contributions, all pull requests are evaluated and accepted by project managers. Contributions are thoroughly tested and then approved. This means that contributions can be denied. The truth is that the quality of the software is not determined by the flexibility of its license. Open Source projects boast of a global community of developers who can contribute to resolving bug issues and constantly improving product quality.

Myth#2: Open Source Is Less Secure Than Proprietary Software

This is the most common misconception that people have. They believe that exposing the source code to the public will expose vulnerabilities. But, the open concept is, in fact, one of the biggest strengths of Open Source. By giving developers access to the source code it helps them to find and address security issues far more quickly with the support of open forums and issue queues compared to proprietary software where we must rely on the software vendor to get around to issuing an update or patch. On the contrary, the reality is hackers do not need access to study the code to hack software. They need access to the right hacking tools that automatically detect vulnerabilities.

Myth#3: Open Source Is Not Enterprise-Grade

Open Source software has been used commercially, by organizations of all sizes, since the 1990s. Some of the recognizable names are — Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, BMW, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia, McDonald's, London Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange, Audi, Peugeot, Harvard University, etc. Many of the world’s biggest organizations don’t just use Open Source software, but, in some cases, like Google’s Android, base an enormous portion of their entire business on it.

In 2018, the most significant acquisition of an Open Source–based company occurred when IBM acquired Red Hat for $34 billion. Another significant acquisition is Magento, a PHP-based opensource eCommerce platform by Adobe. And more recently, the acquisition of GitHub – the leading opensource software development platform – by Microsoft.

Myth#4: Open Source Is Just a Trend

Whenever a new technology hits the market, it is presumed that it is just a temporary phase and will not last long. But, Open Source technology is proving that it is here to stay. 2019 is the 21st anniversary of the term “Open Source” and it has come a long way. In a 2016 survey from Blackduck, 96% of software products developed that year used Open Source software and this number is much higher now. Currently, there is such a dependence on Open Source software that it is unthinkable to completely do away with it.

Myth#5: Open Source Is Not Compatible with Proprietary Programs

Most enterprise-class Open Source software runs on both proprietary operating systems (like iOS or Microsoft Windows) and Open Source. Open Source software implements the same open industry standards that allow interoperability as proprietary software, and in some cases, Open Source software will integrate with other systems even better than proprietary systems.

Myth#6: Open Source Is Free

People commonly refer to Open Source as free, but the “free” is more about the freedom from proprietary software constraints than it is about the monetary cost. Having said that, most Open Source software is free of cost but there are few exceptions.

Myth#7: There Is Less Support for Open Source Software

In the mid-90s when Open Source first appeared on the scene, the developers had to rely on the community and other users for support. Today, third-party support for Open Source software is common. What’s more, with Open Source software, a business can always bring in an independent third party for support and consultation, rather than having to wait for the proprietary vendor to get around to addressing an issue they may have.

Myth#8: Open Source Is Difficult to Maintain

This misconception is an outcome of the previous one. On the contrary, the reality is there is always active motivation and contribution to the opensource projects. Moreover, there are plenty of Open Source project management tools to aid in maintaining code and keeping it well documented and traceable.

Conclusion

So, we can see that the commonly prevailing myths about Open Source technology stems from a lack of information or misunderstanding about the technology and its design, principles, and uses. This is not at all surprising as it happens with any emerging technology; it raises skepticism and is not easily accepted at first. Yet, it must overcome such obstacles to stay relevant and respected. Open Source technology has become increasingly popular and adopted widely. Also, the passionate and active contribution for Open Source by the community, speaks for itself.

What Open Source Offerings Does TA Digital Provide?

At TA Digital, our Open Source team delivers projects in Symfony, PHP, Magento, and Drupal CMS. We are a team of 30 passionate and highly skilled software developers and technology experts and 16-18 of us are Acquia™ certified professionals. Our Acquia certifications cover Acquia Certified Developer in Drupal 8, Acquia Site Builder, and Acquia Frontend Specialist certifications.

Whether you are looking to redesign your legacy website and migrate to a new CMS or platform, or build an ecommerce website, our team is equipped to build complex software applications across verticals using emerging Open Source technologies. We provide Open Source solutions to help solve some of the most complex business challenges and enable our clients to stay lean and competitive.

About TA Digital

TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.

Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity, and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.

Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020 Inc. 5000 list as one of the most successful technology companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like AdobeSAP, and Salesforce and possess global partnerships with industry leaders such as commercetoolsSitecoreEpiserverElastic PathBigCommerceAWS, Azure and Coveo.

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WRITTEN BY:

Mayank Trivedi

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