It’s fair to say that there are some widely held misconceptions about open source software, as well as some potential challenges that public sector organisations should be aware of. Here’s our take on separating the myths from the facts.
1. Open Source is less secure
A major barrier to organisations considering open source software is the fear of risk because the source code is openly available to anyone an in turn, open to threats from the hacker community. However, the wide accessibility of code can actually facilitate early detection of vulnerabilities and lead to a more secure product.
2. Open Source is free
A common misconception about open source is that it’s free. While open source software with no support can be obtained at zero cost, it may not be a finished product. Costs are incurred for the development of feature enhancements and/or support and services.
3. Open Source isn’t licensed
4. Open Source is a fad
Open source software has been in commercial use since the mid-1990’s. It is used by organisations of all sizes across various sectors including those for whom security is a priority. It was first investigated by the Cabinet Office in 2001 and in 2002 it was considered necessary to have an explicit policy on the use of Open Source Software within UK Government.
1. There may be hidden costs
Support and maintenance costs may be greater than those of the proprietary package. It is important to examine the full cost of ownership with your supplier to mitigate this risk.
2. There may be further development required
Open source software may need to be developed further to integrate with existing proprietary software systems. It is imperative that you discuss how you plan to use the software with your supplier and list any other software that it will need to integrate with. Some open source solutions may never work well with established proprietary products.