When choosing software, one inevitably comes to the question: Open Source or commercial software? In the commercial sector, there are a variety of software solutions that are suitable in principle for business-critical uses. Is is the right choice? Or are there comparable Open Source solutions that might be even-better suited? Following, we will compare the advantages and disadvantages of Open Source- and commercial software.
Commercial software solutions with server architecture and interfaces are generally special "home-grown" developments of the respective vendors. Through "vendor lock-in", expanding a feature is usually only possible if customer demand for that feature is big enough. With commercial software, customized solutions and expansions can usually only be realized with difficulty or at extremely high costs.
The integration of an enterprise software by special service providers is often associated with high costs. On the one hand, the expenses depend on the complexity of the software; on the other hand on the respective adjustments. In addition, software license fees and investment in the purchase of special hardware may be incurred to optimize the system. Commercial vendors usually provide comprehensive service and support, but only for the system components offered. Individually tailor-made features are often not possible or extremely costly due to legacy architectures.
The IT- and software industry is facing upheavals – particularly commercial software vendors have been affected in recent years: Many established products have been acquired by competitors (e.g. Gauss, RedDot, Vignette, Interwoven). The long-term continuation of these product lines is often uncertain. If a solution disappears from the market, it becomes increasingly difficult for the user to obtain expert advice or support for the software. To make matters worse, commercial solutions often do not have large installation numbers.
However, this threat does not exist with an established Open Source enterprise software, which is continuously developed by a global community of independent companies, developers and designers.
In contrast to the solutions of commercial providers, Open Source software combines all the advantages of commercial and Open Source web solutions: high-quality source code, stable and high performance, and a high level of security against hacker attacks or hijacking of business-critical corporate sites.
In addition, an Open Source technology is significantly more future-proof than a commercial one: Unlike a commercial company, an Open Source project can’t disappear completely from the market – at most a single service provider.
Since thousands of supporters worldwide are constantly improving the software, a disappearance from the market is almost impossible. In addition, since the know-how is freely available, it is possible to switch to another specialist at any time, without the corporate software being in serious danger. In the worst case – such as in the case of insolvency – a commercial product does not guarantee this possibility of changing vendors.
The decisive advantage of an Open Source software solution is neither the better scalability nor more design freedom, but rather the lower costs.