In this day and age, software is being used more often, both through closed source software (CSS) and open source software (OSS).
By Iffy Kukkoo
22 Jun, 2023
In this day and age, software is being used more often, both through closed source software (CSS) and open source software (OSS). We would like to compare both CSS and OSS in many channels like security, support, use, cost, flexibility, and development in what will be the ultimate battle between closed and open-source software.
With a mix of advantages and disadvantages, both open and closed source software has key differences however provides vital benefits for companies, organizations, and businesses globally.
Open source code in libraries, frameworks, and processes is essential in ensuring software development is completed. Having large groups and resources assigned to projects is a massive benefit when it comes to building and supporting software as well.
Open Source Software (OSS) is software with a source code that is publicly accessible normally freely available on the internet or other channels. This means anyone can copy, inspect, modify, or enhance the software. As the code is open to the public, it can be continuously improved by the community, accelerating development times—a boon for building applications from scratch.
As the software and code are open to the public, it is continuously updated and improved as more people work on it.
By giving outside developer’s access to components and functions in applications and software, the open-source model speeds up development times which is brilliant for building entire applications from the ground up.
This has the unique feature of many minds make for massive advancement when primary goals are not revenue related.
CSS or proprietary software is the counterpoint to OSS. Here, the source code is often kept confidential or secured. Only the original creators or licensed users can access and modify the code. If you decide to use proprietary software, you're essentially paying for the right to use it.
CSS is the opposite of OSS and means that the software is closely guarded and cannot be used freely and openly. There is often a licensing cost or rental element attached to it. Only the original owner or anyone who purchases or licenses the software can access, copy and change that code.
The goal of proprietary software (CSS) is to generate revenue for its owners or creators.
While OSS is generally free to use, it's important to consider additional costs related to support, further development, and extra functionalities that you may wish to add.
Proprietary software, on the other hand, typically involves upfront costs that can vary based on the software's complexity, functionality, support, and innovation. To help potential users decide, many companies offer free trials of their software.
An element of proprietary CSS is that is often not discussed is how users and or business have to change their operation to suit the software.
A good example of this is accounting applications for instance, once an investment has been made in buying or renting the software, you now have to change your accounting processes, to match the process on how software developers intended their software to be used. This might limit or have a negative impact on say sales or marketing departments and curtail their ability to optimally preform their departments.
Both have upsides and concerns when it comes to security. The open-source software code can be viewed, shared, and modified by anyone within any community. Anyone can fix, upgrade, examine and alter this code. This could mean that bugs are resolved quickly, and the code is checked several times before being released; however, due to the code's availability, it is fully open for the nefarious minded.
On the other hand, closed source software can be fixed only by a vendor that has a license or has purchased the software. If something does go wrong with the software, then a support team is usually on hand. However, it could take longer to fix the software as only a small dedicated support team making the adjustments.
Sadly, way too often in the CSS world, decisions are often made for commercial and financial advantages and this supersedes concerns about security and functionality.
When it comes to picking the more secure software, it all depends on your circumstances are you a company or individual. However, in both worlds if you’re working with the right software team these concerns are highly mitigated.
A recent survey was conducted suggesting that 78% of codebases contained at least one open-source vulnerability. 54% of those were high risk, however this has to be taken with a pretty big pinch of salt as in the end there are way more open-source code, than closed source.
In this survey, the software that is abandoned or branched isn’t differentiated, so though this is referred to it doesn’t give an accurate picture and plays into the narrative that open-source software is insecure.
We say, it all depends on the team you’re working with, if you examine widely investigated hacks they often fall down way more on the side of human error and bad practices, than anything to do with code.
When it comes to code availability, open source certainly takes the lead. Open source software grants you unrestricted access to its source code, allowing for modifications to fit your specific needs. This flexibility is a significant advantage of open source software: it can adapt to your processes, rather than forcing you to conform to predefined workflows.
Participating in the open source community is also a mutually beneficial arrangement. As individual users improve and refine the code, these enhancements are shared with the community, meaning everyone can benefit from collective progress. However, with this freedom comes a challenge: maintaining a large, widely accessible codebase can be complex and requires good management practices to ensure consistency and prevent conflicts.
On the contrary, closed source software presents a more controlled environment. The source code is not publicly accessible, which means changes can only be made by the original developers. While this limitation can be inconvenient for those seeking customizable solutions, it does lend itself to a more predictable and consistent development cycle. Proponents often argue that this model offers increased security and reliability.
Still, it's worth noting that the main incentive behind closed source software often lies in its potential for profit. While financial success is not inherently negative, when profit becomes the primary driver for software development, it can lead to compromises in other areas, such as user experience or adaptability. One stark example of this is educational software, where the focus on profit often impacts its effectiveness, accessibility and limits the very thing its trying to achieve, education for humans.
When it comes to dedicated support, a good closed source software company triumphs, as a dedicated support team is usually on hand and a larger part of the company’s revenue should be spent, on the support department.
This means each issue can be resolved directly and there can be someone available during normal times to assist that has the training in that individual area. If a piece of software is well developed and in a continual state of release development, then it’s most likely that the software company, will have a cracking support team.
When it comes to open-source software, you rely on a bunch of public people on forums to help you out. In many cases, this can be spotty at times. The budget for support is often fractional to that of close source as there is no revenue to start with.
In cases where software is old, you might not receive any support at all. You could be dealing with the issue(s) on your own or with some enthusiasts help.
We say, support is a broad area, so it’s hard to say which version is best for support directly. This would need to be defined by an area by area basis and would require an article of its own. However, when dealing with all software OSS, CSS or its middle ground counterparts, you should gain knowledge about that software, it makes for better adoption and productivity in your whole organization.
There is a well known saying in the CSS world, “it's not a bug, it’s a feature!” CSS software doesn’t always work how you want, but that isn’t always a bug, it's just how it was intended to be used. You bought it now live with that choice.
Each platform has its philosophy, methodology, advantages, and disadvantages. It all depends on what you as an individual need or your business needs.
If you are working as a freelancer or as an individual, then open source might be your best bet. You will be able to cut down on costs and build up recognition and knowledge within the community.
As a company, organization, or business, however, it's worth considering what you’re really intending to do as an operation. There isn’t going to be a zero cost version of this, in the end it's time or money which you will be balancing against. In our experience a balance has to be found, and a good start is understanding the productivity level, you are trying to get your organization to.
This will be a major factor in choosing the correct software for the correct application, having an in-house skill set with an external team is a really good way to tap into independent knowledge and gain that level of productivity your organization seeks.
“While free software was meant to force developers to lose sleep over ethical dilemmas, open-source software was meant to end their insomnia.”
Iffy is our exclusive resident technology newshound editor, relentlessly exploring the beauties of the world from a 4th dimensional viewpoint. When not crafting, editing or publishing our IT content, she spends most of her time helping people understand life and its basic principles. You know, the little things around you, that you've failed to grasp each day.
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