Open Source: A Silver Lining in the Economic Slump

This article over on Business Week states what I’ve been preaching to small companies for quite a while now.

JasperSoft is thriving as other vendors struggle because it provides software at a lower price than competitors. In fact, JasperSoft supplies the basic software for free, making money by selling support services or additional features. Its annual fees can be as much as 85% to 90% lower than its competitors. "We’re seeing more interest from companies looking to replace an older software product they can no longer afford," says Chief Executive Officer Gentile.

Open Source software has a lower TCO than proprietary systems. Of course, if you have a medium sized company or plan on using all the features of an Open Source platform, I highly recommend you purchase the support to help solve problems when they arise and to support the Open Source company to ensure future support of a product you’re starting to become dependent upon.

These Open Source companies are able to provide free software because they can keep their staff low and there is a wealth of developers improving their software for free, these new features and fixes can then be incorporated into new versions. The staff can then be dedicated to helping the paying customers who call in for support of their software.

JasperSoft can afford to sell its reporting and analytics software for considerably less because it relies on what’s known as an open-source model of development, wherein the source code—essentially the blueprint of a software program—is openly shared. The company’s product benefits from the input of some 90,000 developers worldwide who volunteer their time writing code to enhance the program, though few work for the 80-person company.

With these economic downfalls and with more companies looking to Open Source software to help shore up their budgets could this be the beginning of more software products moving to an Open Source paradigm? If so, the people questioning whether there is room for growth in the Open Source market, do they question because they really don’t see the potential or because they have an alternative agenda? I think you know what I think.

I believe that Open Source is the way of the future and that everyone that don’t embrace it in some form or another will be left behind. It’s already been proven that the Open Source paradigm can be profitable (i.e. Red Hat, Apache, MySQL, Google, etc.) as long as the old ways of thinking a software company should be run are left behind. But no matter what I think the future of Software will be in the future it’ll at least be very interesting to watch and be a part of in the years to come.

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