Community Support of Open Source Systems
If you're looking at Open Source systems, then one of the most significant benefits of making the change is community support. We've take a quick look at some of the reasons that this makes open source software extremely appealing.
A Sense of Community
Business can be a lonely arena, and it's hard to network with the competition without feeling like you're losing a competitive advantage. One of the great things about open source communities is that they are focused on supporting a specific aspect of your business, meaning many of your “competitors” in the forums are not direct competitors. That allows you to develop a better understanding of how your software works in specific business situations, and what can be done to improve performance, without risking your customer base.
Reduced Support Costs
Another stunningly obvious benefit of having support communities is that you don't need to spend as much on paid support. Even the best developer can find themselves stuck when it comes to getting a specific piece of code to do what they want. In the past, if your team couldn't solve a problem, you'd need to use a consultant to do so. With a community on hand not only willing and able to share their knowledge and to help, but also actively engaged in doing so – you can often eliminate the need for consulting services.
Being Able to Direct Future Development
Whilst proprietary software vendors give lip-service to the communities they serve, often their development roadmap is controlled by a small group of high-revenue providing clients. If you're not on that list, you'll have to take a seat and hope that they'll update the software with your business’ wish list. In Open Source, you can work with other interested parties to promote the direction of future development and have a much greater chance of success than you would with a proprietary software supplier.
One of the biggest advantages of using Open Source software is an active community. In fact, examining the community support for a specific application can help guide your strategy when it comes to choosing a product. Of course, it's a two-way street and to get the most from a community – you also have to give back, but it's a great way of gaining an extra advantage at no cost.