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Open Source: A Way of Developing, Distributing, and Licensing Software - page 3

Introduction

  • August 25, 2005
  • By Ibrahim Haddad
In the following subsections, we will discuss briefly the advantages and risks of using open source components, and the resulting cultural changes from this model:

Advantages of using open source components

We can have a long list of advantages. However, below, we identify four main advantages of using open source software in commercial products. These advantages are the following:
  • Do more with less: using open source components, your organization can reduce development cost and time and focus on the added value your organization brings to the product. Following this model, you should therefore source as much as possible enablers and tools and focus on your core business.
  • Open source is an additional sourcing channel: Typically, you develop software yourself within your organization or you source it to 3rd party. With open source, you gain an additional sourcing channel.
  • Improved quality by peer review: The open source community has a special development cycle characterized by early and frequent releases, which facilitates extensive peer review.
  • Using open source as a venue for standardization reference implementations: open source is a leader to launch reference implementations for standardization projects simultaneously with the standardization efforts.

Risks of using open source components

The risks, from a comemrcial organization point of view, can include the following:
  • Requirement to disclose source code: This depends on which license is used by the open source software component.
  • IPR responsibility: With Open Source software, you are responsible for any IPR related issues. With 3rd party software, verifying IPR related issues are the vendor's responsibility. In addition, there may be significant problems concerning intellectual property rights and software patents as the availability of the source code simplifies the detection of patent infringements by patent holders.
  • Open source software evaluation: Like any other 3rd party software, open source software must go through the same evaluation process. If it is open source, it does not mean it is superior quality. You still need to evaluate.
  • No control over project deliverables and deadlines: The motivation for improving and developing a given piece of software is unpredictable within the open source community; it might vanish or at least decrease depending on the interest in this piece of software.
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