As I sit writing this I feel the chill of winter, but a financial winter is also upon us. Terms like Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), always important, now take on an even stronger meaning, and those who hold the purse strings in businesses are being more critical of expenditure than ever before. At times like these CTOs and IT managers everywhere are looking for alternate and cheaper options to provide the tools and products they require for themselves, their users, and customers.
The outsourcing business is a well-established enterprise, but the Open Source market is still relatively new, and has lots of stigmas for many. This article aims to take a look at the relationship between outsourcing and Open Source technologies, the impact of the growing Open Source movement on the IT Outsourcing (ITO) industry, and what it’s in it for the customers.
However, we first need to define the phrase “Open Source” and see why businesses are so interested in it.
What is “Open Source”?
The term is often misused in the media and misunderstood by people. Quite often, clients confuse Open Source with free software and vice versa. In fact, Open Source means that the source code itself is open for review and allows modification by contributors. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free to use, although it usually is, and those that are not free normally have restrictive licences that are not considered Open Source by all. Free software, on the other hand, can be free to all, but one can’t always see or modify the source code. At the other end of the business model there is proprietary software which is usually protected by patent and copyright laws and it’s a rare person indeed who is privileged to see the source, let alone modify it.