What is open source software? It is the product of a movement to provide end-users with complicated software free of charge. Even more interesting, most open source software programs have vibrant communities of developers that freely contribute to the software, adding to its value by improving stability and extending functionality.
Whether you knew it or not- you already have had extensive experience with open source software. Open source CMS projects like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal have permanently changed the appearance of the web, helping millions to make websites.
Open source means business
You may be thinking: Blogging tools? Well that is no big deal- but an open source CMS isn’t all play. Magento is making major space in the ecommerce realm, enabling quick deployment of legitimate web-based storefronts. Magento isn’t just a front-end website builder either, it has tons of features on the back-end for business administration, including sales reporting, invoices, a shopping cart, a lots more. (Ask me to create a login for you on my Magento demo site.) Non-profits are able to use open source distributions like civiCRM to manage donations, track customers, and keep in contact with stakeholders.
The wild success of other open source customer relationship management tools like vtiger and SugarCRM sends a strong message to proprietary software CRM firms. Those two programs alone may be what prompted Salesforce.com to brandish a “No Software” crest with their logo.
Small and medium organizations are not alone moving into open source space. Heavyweight corporations are implementing open source tools, slashing IT costs and redefining how traditional software companies compete. New database and server management systems are now almost exclusively based on open source’s champion Linux. Even the most proprietary of software firms like Citrix and Oracle are releasing once vigorously protected software in accordance with demand for open source.
Even government, in all its glorious efficiency, has battled declining tax revenue by turning to open source through Open Office.
What is the driving force behind open source?
Cloud computing lends tremendous liquidity to the open source frenzy. Firms like PHP Fog may enable faster uptime, while rock solid hosting firms like MediaTemple and Rackspace make web serving easy. Demand for hosted software/services will continue to rise with the proliferation of feature-rich open source software distributions.
The practice of taking something really valuable and sharing it with others – sounds noble but impossible to sustain. Still somehow open source momentum seems unstoppable. And don’t be fooled, there is money to be made in open source. Loads of it- Just examine the synergy between Red Hat and JBoss. (JBoss was also the target of lucrative acquisitions.)
Ready to get on board? You can find lots of open source software at Sourceforge.
Try your hand at a CRM implementation: Locally host SugarCRM’s community edition. Mac users can use MAMP, Windows users can use XAMPP and be running in 15 minutes.