Open Source Software Is Ripe For Exploitation

Business owners and business professionals fear the risk of using Open Software products. They can see that some businesses take this path and seem to benefit from the cost savings that Open Source offers, but they feel open vulnerable.

This not a charge that is exclusive to Open Source products, since I have worked with organizations who have bought software product and support only to find that it is buggy and that the software developer has a three month release cycle. I have been involved in innumerable workarounds for commercial software.

Open Source products are developed by the software community at large; with a credo of develop fast release often. Because of short development cycles bugs are found quickly and releases come out often.

One of the good things about open Source products is that you can learn from the work of others. As an example, it might be that you want a HTTP server that must be extremely efficient but your developers don’t know enough about the problem. They can download a number of different servers (Apache is only the tip of the iceberg) look at the code and get a feel for what other developers have done.

If you’re lucky you will find one that almost does what you want (I have done this in the past) and it’s often possible to adapt the existing code to your new problem. You might think that you are inheriting someone else’s headache, but you are left with the option to use the software as it is, or migrate at your leisure when the community changes the code. It is win-win all the way around, since you save development time and deliver a more reliable product.

Unless you as a business owner or business professional are very lucky then developers move on from time-to-time taking a vast store of knowledge with them. If you are lucky enough to have used some Open Source software then you can rely on the community being there to support it. The members of that community may vary as people drift in and out, but the body of knowledge remains.

If your new developers are familiar with the open Source products they are adopting then the learning curve, and the level of exposure you are subjected to is reduced. That doesn’t mean that Open Source is necessarily a Silver Bullet. Open Source products are nearly always a tool that allows you project to be completed quickly, but not the solution themselves.

Business owners and business professionals should not ignore open Source products as a part of their Software development or business technology upgrade. In the same way as commercial software there are good and bad Open Source products, so it essential for you to perform some evaluation.

If you are software developers, get your team to download and use the product. You may learn from the code, and although there are deficiencies you may be able to live with them, and at the same time save a whole heap of money.

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