Open Source vs Closed Source Development

Should you invest in open source or closed source platform?

In the digital era of automation and technology, software is incredibly used for daily tasks. Irrespective of the kind of uses of the software, it comes under two categories:

  • Open-source software (OSS)
  • Closed-source software (CSS)

While the above two technical jargons might seem complicated for those who are not technologically savvy, it is fairly easy to understand them. Especially, if you are business owner or customer who is looking to invest in software for application development, be it mobile or web application.

As the name suggests, Open- source software (OSS) is a platform that has its source code available to the public with a license where the copyright holder provides the rights to study, modify and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose free of charge. Think, Android or Java!

On the other hand, Closed- source (or proprietary) software (CSS) is a platform where the source code is not disclosed with the public and legally distributed under a licensing agreement to authorised users with private modification, copying, and republishing restrictions. Think, Apple iOS or .net!

As you know now, the fundamental difference between OSS and CSS is the right to view, modify and share the source code.

But when you are seriously considering which kind of software to use for application development, then there are specific key differences that you need to know between OSS and CSS are based on the following factors:

1. Cost

One of the biggest advantages of open source platform is the free cost not just in monetary aspects but also freedom from restrictions. If you have the in-house technical expertise to maintain the OSS software and resources to implement, train and provide support to staff, then open source is the most cost-effective for your company. However, some OSS providers do charge for add-ons, integration and additional services

Closed source software comes at a hefty cost which typically includes the base fee, integration and services and annual licensing or support fees. While it might be costlier, your company gets a customised product from a trusted brand, less requirement for technical skills, high security amongst other features.

2. Development

In Open-source platform, development is through ‘mass collaboration’. All fixes and development continue long as the community is large, active and coming up with new updates, features and fixes.

Closed source software copyright holders and creators generally handle all the fixes and development issues. This means it could end the support of software any time, leaving you in the dark. It is entirely under their discretion if they choose to continue the ongoing development or not.

Thus, as far as development is concerned, the Open-source software has a clear advantage.

3. Innovation

Open-source software is developed in a democratic, collaborative manner. As the software is available for the public to use and modify free of cost, it has the scope to evolve. People are not held to a company's vision which is usually profit-driven rather than by a sheer passion for technology and evolution. You will usually witness high quality in open-source software as it is held to highest standards in following integrity of code, constant improvisation and the power of collaboration of the best of minds. You don´t have to worry about open-source software being obsolete as there are continuously updated and innovated.

The need for innovation for closed source software from big organisations primarily stems from the need to generate profit or hold market share. So, there is a specialised R&D team in large corporations who are conscious of their brand and quality.

4. Support

In open-source software, there are few support options such as community forums, reading related articles or simply hiring an expert. There is a clear lack of dedicated and organised support team or user-friendly FAQ manual to resolve any technical issues.

Closed source software will have a 24/7 dedicated support team of experts, FAQ and manuals. All your problems are resolved in an organised and timely manner where you may have to submit a ‘support ticket’, and the issue is timely resolved in a few business days. All customer´s issues are handled in an organised manner and well documented as well.

Closed source software has the advantage in support.

Final decision

There is no right or wrong kind of software, and the decision should be made based on your business and its goals. However, Open Source is a great option if you have the requisite technical skills and are on a budget.

If you have placed your bets on open-source software, we would like to recommend the startup-friendly ´Ruby on Rails´ software for its time efficiency (proven to be 30%-40% faster), cost effectiveness, MIT license, high quality, bug-free development, well-supported and highly secure.

When it comes to the mobile application or web application, no other technology comes close to Ruby on Rails for creating technologically superior online products or services.

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