Open Source Software has been enjoying its time in the spotlight in recent years Because of open source’s long-standing relationship with lower-level network software, there’s an extensive range of powerful open source network monitoring software on offer today. There are some significant benefits to opting for open source software, and the fact that network management software has had somewhat of a ‘head-start’ in open source means that there’s a lot to consider when making a selection. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of switching to open source network monitoring and management, and discuss a few of the best options on the market today.
What’s the difference between open source software and freeware?
The first thing that most people think of when they hear open source software is cost. It’s certainly true that most, if not all, open source software offers a payment- and royalty-free option, it’s by no means its defining factor. As GBDirect states on their website, “Most current Open Source projects are also available free of royalties and fees, leading to the confusion around the commonly used term `free software’. Regrettably the English language does not have separate concepts for free-of-charge and free as in unconstrained; other languages are better equipped to describe the difference between `freedom’ and `free of charge’ (libre vs. gratis). Proponents of free software licences tend to emphasise liberty over cost although in practice the main open source projects are free in both senses of the word.” This makes it clear that the principal benefits of open source software is the fact that the software is ‘open’ to anybody who wishes to improve or customise it.
What does open source software mean for me and my business?
There’s a lot of information about the benefits of open source network monitoring software around the internet, and an increasing number of organisations are becoming vocal about their shift to open source and what it has meant for them. Broadly speaking, these are the areas of benefit that come with open source network monitoring software:
While open source software isn’t necessarily always free, there is usually a free option. And even though purchasing cost is a factor to consider, the more important metric is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). With much lower investment costs, open source network monitoring software has the potential to drastically reduce the TCO of your network management software.
Reliability likely means something slightly different to everyone, but the definition provided by GBDirect is useful to bear in mind: “the absence of defects which cause incorrect operation, data loss or sudden failures.” Because the source code for open source software is available to the public, any defect that arises can be patched up quickly. Often, developers will fix a bug and inform the maintainers of the software, which results in an official patch being deployed.
While many proprietary software vendors describe themselves as flexible – and to an extent they are – the kind of flexibility offered by open source software has different implications. Open source software is truly flexible in the sense that it is easily modified or customised should the needs of your business change. Because the source code is freely available, you won’t have to purchase a different management suite or wait for an updated version to be released – you can tweak and personalise it to suit the unique context of your environment.
IRIS has over twenty years’ experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry. If you’d like to find out more about how to get the best performance possible out of your network management software, please download our free Guide to a Stable and Highly Available Network.
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