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To understand the benefits of Open Source technology – one really needs an understanding of who is speaking and what they want to use it for.
When I was first asked to write about Open Source technology I had to make sure the meaning of Open Source was clear to me as it could mean so many different things to different people; for example are we talking about something that is open to read and change or something that is free to use and easily available?
The first benefit, as I perceive it, is that the source code is open to be read, understood and altered by the user. This is a huge difference to software from firms such as Microsoft or Oracle, where you more or less have to believe the marketing material. The second common meaning is that it is free for use, although this doesn’t necessarily mean it costs nothing to run a business using Open Source software. Finally, easily available means it can be downloaded directly from the Internet and doesn’t depend on signing complex contracts before using the software.
The game changing impact of this “Openness” is that there is a huge variety of software solving almost every computing problem already written and ready to use. This means that someone with a new business idea only needs to develop his new part and can bolt together the rest for very little money and effort. The resulting cost and time to market is unbeatable and turns into a virtuous circle as new software is constantly released into the open source world driving ever more creativity.
These elements make Open Source exciting and the future applications of this technology are truly limitless.
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