10 biggest advantages of open-source software

Sara Ana Cemazar
October 6, 2021
min read
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Open-source software is undoubtedly gaining traction. Even though the open-source community has been active in their promotion of open source advantages for years, there have never been more open-source projects in use than today. 

However, most individuals and companies are still not convinced or aren’t that familiar with the open-source concept. This article is here to give you a list of the biggest open-source advantages and potential disadvantages so you can make an informed decision.

✨Without further ado, let’s answer the burning question: 

What are the biggest advantages of open-source software?

open source software advantages

#1 Absolute transparency

What you see is what you get: the point of open-source software is the transparency of its code. As a matter of fact, many other open-source advantages stem from the absolute visibility of its code. 

Since users of open-source software can see the code, they are inclined to trust the software provider more. Furthermore, since the code is publicly available, it gives its users a sense of stability: it can be used for long-term projects since the software won’t simply be discontinued.

#2 Flexibility 

Open-source software is flexible in a way that allows developers to see how the code works and make changes to it. Therefore, they can adapt the software to their or their company’s needs. Moreover, they can make changes to problematic aspects of the app, which makes it one of the greatest advantages of this kind of software.

Flexibility is one of the biggest open-source software advantages since being free from vendor lock-in and the ability to scale and change the app could also be seen as flexibility factors.

#3 Agility 

Ah, agility: the much-beloved word in the business dictionary. Today, companies must be agile in order to beat their competitors. Open-source software fits in the need for agility perfectly since it allows for multiple ways to solve a single problem.

Moreover, open-source software is continuously being changed and upgraded by members of the open-source community. Commercial software is being updated more slowly, and the updates most commonly stem from commercial and financial reasons.

#4 Enhanced security

Many open-source enthusiasts say that open-source software is more secure than its proprietary counterpart. However, open-source software is not inherently more secure. Rather, the security is increased for several reasons.

As Ron Rymon argues, there are three reasons why open-source is more secure than average closed-source software:

  1. More people are inspecting the code. This enables more issues to be found - and fixed.
  2. Vulnerabilities are fixed much faster and updates are more frequent. This leaves little time to exploit any imperfections of the code.
  3. In more instances than not, closed-source software uses numerous open-source components. Thus, closed-source software does not equal more security, especially if the open-source components are being mismanaged and not updated frequently.

In fact, increased security of the source code is the main reason why open source software is being so popular and is perceived as the biggest open-source software advantage. Some of the biggest data protection trends point out using open-source software is a good way to keep up with security.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly important to customers, who are less willing to buy products from companies with poor data security reputations.

open source software advantages

#5 Cost-efficiency: sharing maintenance costs + lesser hardware and software costs

Open-source software is very often free or cheaper than proprietary software. Therefore, you save on licensing and maintenance fees. Moreover, most open-source solutions take less hardware power to carry out their tasks. In other words, you can also save on hardware costs!

Another cost-effective aspect is the ability for enterprises to start small and test the software before applying it on a large scale.

#6 Starting out small

The possibility to start small and test the open-source software on a smaller scale is not only cost-effective but has other benefits. For one, companies can see if the solution is truly the best one for them.

In organizations, teams often start using the open-source software and then move on to commercially supported versions to cover their growing needs. Therefore, this open-source advantage makes it easier for companies to try out different solutions and later scale them if needed.

#7 Powering the digital transformation

The world is moving ahead, and businesses that don’t take part in digital transformation often find themselves on the losing side. 

According to this research, organizations increasingly turn to open-source software to power digital transformation by maximizing efficiency, flexibility, and interoperability. In fact, open-source is “very important” as a driver of digital transformation initiatives to 48% of companies.

open source software advantages

✨ Find out what constitutes a digital workplace and what are its biggest benefits, and get this list of 15 best open-source software to help you power digital transformation in your company.

#8 The power of community

Open-source communities and contributors make a very good case for the efficiency of team collaboration. Since the code is publicly available, developers often propose changes to it to enhance functionalities, security, or others. This open-source software advantage simply cannot be matched by any proprietary software!

Rocket.Chat would not be what it is today without the help of its 30k large GitHub community! Shoutout to everybody that helps us be the best we can be 😊

#9 Attracting talent

Using open-source software allows organizations to attract better talent. Also, it gives a lot of opportunities for developers to learn and advance in their careers.

Many developers enjoy the opportunity to freely create their own projects. Since the demand for developers on the market is greater than the supply, recruiters have a hard time finding high-quality talent to work in their organizations. Using open-source projects might be the key to resolving that problem!

#10 No vendor lock-in

One of the biggest open-source software advantages is the freedom: to use it, to change it, to distribute it (with some licenses more than with others). 

This freedom also extends to the freedom to stop using the software without great repercussions. With proprietary software, organizations are at risk of becoming locked in by the vendor’s price increases and inability to leave with all the data intact.

Are there any disadvantages to open-source software?

So, now you’re aware of the biggest open-source software advantages: but what about its drawbacks? Are there any?

Experts agree that open-source software can be more complex to install and run in comparison with proprietary software that you just buy and start using right away. However, there are many open-source software out there, and they can significantly vary in their complexity.

When it comes to research, the results are clear: organizations very rarely regret open-source software implementation. In fact, only 9% do, while 91% say their expectations are met or exceeded.

open source software advantages

Requires strategy to fully utilize benefits

Maximizing open-source software advantages requires a comprehensive strategy. Organizations that apply optimized strategies are more likely to have open-source initiatives that exceed expectations. 

Compatibility issues

Some proprietary hardware doesn’t support open-source software. This might mean that additional purchases of specialized drivers are needed, and can increase the overall cost of the project.

The solution to this potential issue is to check your hardware’s limitations before you acquire open-source software.

Being not so user-friendly

One of the common drawbacks of open-source apps is that they’re not very user-friendly. As user-friendliness increases the usage of the app itself, many open-source apps lately are improving on this aspect.

For example, one of the Rocket.Chat’s strongest features is the ease of implementation and use. As it is meant for team collaboration, this is very important to us to be easily accessible and user-friendly, but without compromising data security.

Lack of support

Like with any other software, you’ll probably need support when it comes to technical issues. Open-source software vendors often lack in this area and don’t offer extensive support - and no wonder since the software is often free.

However, open-source software that caters to businesses most usually does have an established customer support department, even if some of its products come free of charge.

Requires highly skilled developers

When an organization wants to use open-source software, they often need developers to implement and run it. However, open-source solutions in the B2B area are more flexible in this area and offer extensive support with running their programs.

In the end, many drawbacks of open-source software don’t apply to ones that cater to businesses. 

Take advantage of Rocket.Chat’s open-source software

By now, it’s not a secret: Rocket.Chat is open-source software - and we are immensely proud of it. Many Rocketeers are huge advocates of open source and are active members of open-source communities.

Rocket.Chat’s open-source community helps us to keep our communication platform secure, and secure communication and collaboration are our main focus.

Therefore, reach out to our team and unleash the power of team collaboration - all while knowing that every conversation you have upholds the highest security standards.

open source software advantages

Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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