Reconsidering Open-Source: Why Proprietary Technology Makes Good Business Sense


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For many companies, proprietary business solutions are still the benchmark of quality and professionalism. While open-source technologies offer the advantage of crowd-sourced upgrades (a free community of developers constantly expanding on the source code), they don’t offer the security and peace-of-mind that many businesses need to remain accountable to their share-holders, clients, and employees. After all, while it can be exciting to explore the frontier of business technologies, frontiers tend to be closer to the wild wild west, and lack the orderly standards that many companies rely on to build their revenues.

When it comes to technology, there are three areas in which businesses should “err on the side of caution.” First, there’s the standard desktop operating system. Second, there’s your basic communication infrastructure. Finally, there’s your onsite content, such as your blog. While each of these have open-source options, there are also good reasons why your business might be better off choosing a proprietary technology instead.

Desktop Operating Systems
It seems that web-based and cloud-based open-source apps are everywhere these days. But there’s nowhere where open-source technology is still so widely mistrusted than in the realm of desktop operating systems.

Sure, there are many developers and other “super-users” that use a Linux O/S to power their desktop. But when it comes to organizational management, most businesses still choose a proprietary model.

In fact, this is one of the main reasons why Apple will have so much trouble challenging Microsoft. The latter has been offering a tried, tested, true, and affordable product for years. The Windows O/S has become a business standard.

Businesses in every industry trust this proprietary technology because (1) it’s stable and secure, and (2) it’s been a foundation technology for so long that it’s not only reliable, but ripping it out now would be devastating. So while your business might be looking to save costs through the adoption of open-source technology, the desktop O/S is just not the place to do it.

Email Platforms
Gmail has long become the darling of consumer-grade, web-based email. And now, Google even offers Gmail for businesses. But there are a couple good reasons why your business shouldn’t make the jump just yet.

First, there’s the issue of control. Basically, you business should really own and control the data being sent to and on behalf of your business,.

Second, even if it doesn’t make good business sense for you to invest in your own in-house email servers, you can still enjoy the benefit of proprietary technology such as Microsoft’s Exchange. In fact, many reputable companies offer Exchange server hosting at affordable rates that your company can avail of without having to invest in the physical infrastructure.

Onsite Content
In recent years, having a company blog has become a popular way to (1) communicate with users, and (2) create more search engine friendly content on your site. And the most popular blogging software available is WordPress.

Granted, WordPress is one of the most advanced blogging platforms available. But any WordPress enthusiast will be the first to tell you about frequent security exploits.

While security patch upgrades seem to be more and more common with WordPress these days, there’s also only so much you can do keep your content, server, and database safe from hackers. After all, everyone has access to the source code. Just imagine unauthorized users posted content under your name on your own site!

So if your company has a blog or is thinking of launching one on its site, it should really consider a proprietary blogging platform. There are several non-hosted and hosted options alike, such as MovableType and Squarespace respectively, and they both offer a reliable and secure platform to let your business communicate with its target market.

Proprietary Technology = Proprietary Data
The hype around open-source business solutions seems driven largely by the hype around cloud-computing. After all, as cloud computing is lauded as the next step in business technology, so are other forms of technology that entail businesses giving up more and more control of their data and their content.

But as a recent study demonstrated, cloud computing adoption is being stunted by (1) limited operating history, and (2) security concerns.

And it’s precisely for these reasons that business should think twice before investing some of their bottom line in open-source technology. First, while open-source seems like the “next big thing,” there isn’t much precedent for it being a standard business component, and the reasons for this are its security ambiguities: will it run consistently? if it doesn’t, who is accountable? will it keep out unauthorized personnel? and who else will have access to that data?

Jason Laloux
Jason is a freelance writer and marketing strategist that specializes in social media and content strategy. His work has traditionally focused on B2B products, such as web hosting and ERP solutions, but he also has a strong background in travel writing.


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