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Core dna

Posted on • Originally published at coredna.com

Open Source Software vs Closed Source Software

There’s no need to be intimidated by this technical jargon. The differences between Open and Closed source software are fairly straightforward and there are fairly clear pros and cons for each. There is no right or wrong answer to the question either. Your best option will largely depend on your business and its goals. In the end, the main objective is to have access to a CMS that is easy for you and your team to manage on a day to day basis.

But let’s start with a few basics to help you get in the conversation.

In a hurry? Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
What is Open Source Software?
Right Then. So What is Closed Source Software?
So What Are Some of The Key Differences Between Open & Closed Source Software?
1. Cost
2. Service
3. Innovation
4. Usability
5. Security

What is Open Source Software?
Open source software (OSS) is distributed under a licensing agreement which allows computer code to be shared, viewed and modified by other users and organizations.

Or in slightly more user-friendly language,

Open source software is available for the general public to use and modify from its original design free of charge. What it means is that a piece of software can evolve and be iterated upon by other developers anywhere in the world. Ideally, this means that the software is improved over time, but it can often take plenty of interesting twists and turns with all of that evolution and can change form and shape entirely.

Open Source feels inherently cool and well...open. In theory, it feels like what the Internet was supposed to be all about. But it should also come with a warning label. There’s a fantastic fortnightly podcast about technology that I never miss called 'Reply All'. They ran an episode recently called Disappeared that’s really worth a listen.

It delves into the idea of the open web and the principles of self-governance that drive the ethos of open source software. Whilst an open and peer to peer oriented web is to be applauded philosophically, it can leave us vulnerable to rogue developers who choose to break things for their own benefit. Hence the need for a warning label.

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Right Then. So What is Closed Source Software?
Closed source software can be defined as proprietary software distributed under a licensing agreement to authorized users with private modification, copying, and republishing restrictions.

Or in layman terms, the source code is not shared with the public for anyone to look at or change. Closed source is the opposite of open source. Thanks, Wikipedia ;)

Closed source is actually the sort of arrangement that you would expect from most businesses, protective of their product and keen to maintain control over their brand and the user experience offered to their customers. Think Apple rather than Android.

So, when considering open source or closed source (proprietary) software, what are some of the key differences to take into account before making a decision? We're going to take a look at service/support, innovation, usability and security in both open source and closed source software and outline the pros and cons of both software systems.

So What Are Some of The Key Differences Between Open & Closed Source Software?

[Difference #1] Cost

One of the main advantages of open source software is the cost; however, when applied to Open Source Software, the term "free" has less to do with overall cost and more to do with freedom from restrictions.

If you have the in-house capabilities and technical expertise to maintain the software, and resources to implement, train and provide support to staff, then open source may be most cost-effective for your organization. You should consider, however, the long-term costs of implementation, innovation, providing support, and investing in infrastructure as your company evolves, technology changes, and your needs grow.

We recently took a detailed look at the costs of platforms with our post Do You Know The True Cost of Managing a Website? It will help you understand what are the true costs.

Open software providers are also increasingly charging for extras like add-ons, integration, and additional services, which can negate any cost-saving advantages in some cases. In the end, rather than being free, you are still paying for a service with open source software.

For a Closed Source CMS, depending on the complexity of the system, the cost can vary between a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars, which includes a base fee for software, integration and services and annual licensing/support fees. While the hard cost can be higher, what you get in return is a more customized product from a trusted brand, higher levels of security and functionality, continuous innovation, greater scalability, ongoing training and support and a lower requirement for technical skills.

Read here for the other factors on our official free blog.

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