Today, businesses are increasingly dependent on technology. Without using modern technologies, services and automation tools, a business begins to lose its competitiveness. More advanced companies are becoming more efficient and are pushing organizations that work “the old fashioned way” out of the market.
The software market for business needs is developing at a tremendous speed. Today you can find both universal software solutions and specialized ones – aimed at solving the needs of companies in a particular industry.
How to understand the world of software? What do you need to know about the software? What is it like and how does it differ from each other?
Aleksey Smirnov, CEO of Basalt SPO, answered these questions and spoke about the world of business software.
What is free software
Free Software defines free software as software distributed under a simple (non-exclusive) license that provides the user with the following features:
- use the computer program for any purposes not prohibited by law;
- get access to the source texts (codes) of the program both for the purpose of studying and adapting, and for the purpose of processing the computer program; distribute the program (for free or for a fee, at your discretion);
- make changes to the computer program (rework) and distribute copies of the modified (reworked) program, taking into account possible requirements for license inheritance;
- in some cases, distribute the modified computer program by the user on terms identical to those on which the original program was provided to him.
As you can see, the company receives the entire set of required rights by purchasing free software. However, it should be taken into account that the developer of the software product can fix in the license agreement a number of conditions for the user to exercise these rights. For example, one license agreement obliges the user to release his derivative software product under the same license as the original software, another to give his derivative software a name that does not match the name of the original software product, etc.
Differences between free software and non-free software
Free software is much more often compared not to proprietary software, but to non-free software. For the latter, there has long been a stable term in the IT market – proprietary (from the English. Proprietary – private), that is, which is the private property of authors or copyright holders.
For a long time, free software was inferior to non-free software in at least two ways – application integration and technical support. But today the situation has changed dramatically: the problems have been solved and are a thing of the past. However, the market by inertia continues to consider them relevant. A software company would do well not to fall into the web of these misconceptions so as not to narrow their horizons.
Benefits of free software
If your goal is to make your company more agile, dynamic, strong and competitive, it makes sense to explore and make the most of open source software. It really gives the user more freedom than the proprietary one.
Ability to adapt IT infrastructure to current business needs
When it comes to applications that are critical to the company’s core business, it’s better to deal with software that can potentially be patched. The presence of source codes in free software makes it possible to make the necessary changes to the program if it does not suit you in some way (does not have the necessary specific functionality, does not fit with other applications that are already used in the company, etc.).
Extracting commercial benefits
The world knows many stories of people who created multinational companies, starting with “five dollars in their pocket.” A software startup has a real chance of adding to this world fame list if it builds on free software, because free software, which provides developers with source code, drastically lowers the financial barrier to entry into the market.
To create your own application, you do not need multi-billion investments. Examples of such startups are the Russian companies NGINX, which creates software for web servers and mail proxy servers (running on Unix-like operating systems) and PostgresProfessional, which creates critical high-load systems using PostgreSQL DBMS open source software.
Wider choice of hardware
The wider the range of architectures on which the program is capable of running – for example, the operating system, the freer the organization in choosing models of servers and workstations, the more options for reducing the cost of operating the infrastructure. From this point of view, it is preferable to choose a solution based on free software.
When acquiring the technique of a new hardware architecture, an organization can order an assembly of the used program for this architecture using its own or third-party specialists. Thus, the choice of architecture remains with the customer organization, and not with the vendor.
Both tiny start-ups and industrial giants interact with each other and with various government agencies and departments, exchanging documents in electronic form. If these documents are created in different formats, there are bound to be difficulties in reading and collaborating on them. Therefore, it makes sense to use office suites that support the international open standard ODF. Moreover, the digitalization of business processes will inevitably set the task of long-term storage of documents. If the format is open, the document can be read in 20 or 50 years.
ODF (Open Document Format) is an open document file format for storing and exchanging edited office documents, including text documents, spreadsheets, drawings, databases, and presentations.