August 10, 2020

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Using Open Source Tools

Every year we are witnessing the investments in open source technology propelled to new heights. 

A major trend being recently spotted is the acquisition of several top open source tools and platforms by veteran tech companies like the acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft and Red Hat by IBM. 

These tech titans insist on having these technologies remain as open source. It throws light into the fact that the business world has learned to place trust and confidence in empowering digital transformation through open source technology.  But all is not well with open source as there are apprehensions about using them widely in business scenarios. 

So how has open source technology grown from its early days of being a platform for free software created by a community of passionate developers to the stage where even the world’s largest businesses trust their high-end digital systems to run on the tech? And why is that there are still hurdles to cross before declaring open source a champion and torchbearer of digital transformation for businesses today? To unravel the answers to these questions, let us explore the pros and cons of open source tools. 

First, let us explore the advantages of using open source tools.

Cost effectiveness

A major benefit for businesses that rely on open source tools to expand their digital channels is the inherent cost benefits associated with the tech. From being free in several cases to costing a minimal licensing fee when compared to proprietary software, open source tech can raise the bar for cost effectiveness in IT budgets. This is important, especially for businesses where their core operations often invite large operational expenditure resulting in a lower allocation for IT and tech. 

Learning Curve

Open source tools, platforms, and technologies can be mastered by technical resources faster than proprietary 3rd party software. The large collection of help guides, availability of free courses, free certifications, and much more make it more attractive for developers to try out new open source technology as and when a stable variant of the tech is made available. Most open source technologies are created with the thought of enabling programmers learn the tech on their own. Hence, they have very efficient documentation and support practices available to guide any learning activity.

Community Support

One of the key foundations of the open source software industry is the immense user community that is built and sustained around every major technology that is released under its label. From powerful front-end frameworks to high-end AI and blockchain technology, the support from passionate contributors and the technology community as a whole enables faster growth of any open source tool or platform. This is also one key reason why the learning curve of open source is minimal as software professionals can have a quick grip on any new innovations or emerging capability of an open source tool through several support channels available.


For open source projects, the core codebase is freely available for anyone to access and build upon. This ensures that any relevant technology that is developed can have its capabilities extended by the large support community available. For commercial software, your investment on a product or license becomes risky if there arises a situation where the particular 3rd party vendor goes out of business. For an open source tool or platform, the support you get is nearly lifelong as community members always strive to keep the software running through regular updates.

Now let us evaluate the cons of open source software.


Open source software has long had a reputation of being the easiest target for security threats in cyberspace. This happened mostly in ready-to-deploy open source software that required minimal technical knowledge for operations. Such vulnerabilities can lead to extremely dangerous consequences in the future. However, modern enterprise-grade open source tools and platforms have robust security practices in place to ensure that they are well protected from lurking dangers in cyberspace. Still, when it comes to a comparison with proprietary software, the focus of security is higher for proprietary tech, where vendors have defined SLA’s for security features.


Open source software is often built and maintained by a large team of remote technology enthusiasts who have a lesser focus on the usability of the built platform or tool. Hence, the usability aspect of the application or platform often takes a hit when compared to the dedicated UI practices followed by proprietary software vendors.

Faster Market Evolution

Open source software often sees one of its major advantages turning into a weakness at times. We are talking about the large community behind the open source ecosystem. Because development happens at a very rapid pace, there are chances that the open source software or a version deployed at an enterprise may become outdated faster than proprietary software with a lower number of version release cycles. Newer product or version releases will happen quickly for open source software, thereby increasing the chance of enterprise open source tech turning old rather soon. However, the community support for older versions of open source has been found to be more efficient when compared to proprietary software release timelines. 

Open source tools and platforms have their share of pros and cons to consider when it comes to utilizing the same for an enterprise. However, as time progresses, we are seeing a transition of the open source ecosystem where every disadvantage of a tool or software is being addressed either by the support community or is addressed by a new tool. 

Hence, the future of software development for businesses can be seen as moving towards a largely open source ecosystem and one in which there is a free flow of innovation and emerging technology integration like AI, IoT, Blockchain, and much more.


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