Economic Crisis Makes Open Source Clear Choice

I have noticed recently that the pundits are aptly noting the growing importance of open source software. With the economic crisis, everyone is looking to cut costs and they will naturally look toward open source.

A great article in Express Computer relates that “Gartner predicts that by 2010 it will account for 20% of the global software market.” Open source is growing and, while the article outlines a number of reasons, I think Santosh Dsouza, Chief Technologist, Sun Microsystems, sums it up best, “There are a number of features in a product that only a few customers demand. It is not feasible for software vendors to spend time working on such features. In case of open source, the community contribution helps bridge this gap. This not only gives a customer more insight into the product but also helps in increasing the product quality as quality issues can be more proactively addressed and comprehensive testing can be done.” As software vendors have to tighten their belts (especially those that are publicly traded or trying to go public), you can bet they will have to cut back on staff and will not be able to maintain product velocity.

This is exactly why our ethos at Orange Leap is community first. Let’s leverage technology and expertise across nonprofits so you don’t have to rely on us for everything. That way we can focus on the core product (product governance) rather than a bunch of customizations that distract us, which is what takes up significant amounts of most software vendors’ time.

In CIO, JT Smith recently did an excellent analysis of why open source will expand even more rapidly due to the economic crisis. Basically, there is an open source solution that is as good or better than proprietary solutions for almost everything you do.  As Smith ends the piece, “Open source applications don’t have one thing that their closed-source brethren have: licensing fees. Certainly you’ll still have support, deployment, and possibly hosting costs; but you have those costs with closed source software as well. The difference is that you’ll save the money you would have put toward licensing fees and now you have that to put toward implementation and support costs.”

I truly think moving toward open source makes great sense for so many organizations right now because of cost and flexibility. Some have asked me if it makes sense for smaller organizations without much or any IT staff. I say absolutely. Open source can be hosted and on-demand so you have no infrastructure issues (albeit some additional cost, but much less than hiring IT professionals). And even if an organization never reads or writes a line of code, they benefit. They benefit from the community fixing bugs and adding features, and they benefit from a better quality product since we remain focused on the core product. They can even become integral participants in the community through user tips, answering questions and getting top quality fundraising advice. 

But more on the community aspects soon. We are about to make some exciting announcements regarding the future of the Orange Leap Community.

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