The Case for Open Source BI Software

For both software users and software creators, the advent of open source business intelligence has created much controversy. Since 1998, when the Open Source Initiative was formed, a steadily increasing wave of commercial and non-commercial licensed software has been developed and distributed over the internet. Currently, in the realm of open source BI software, over 60% of companies and governments are active users, with these numbers steadily rising. But even with such statistics, some potential users still prefer closed source software to its open source competition. On the other hand, some new software creators also prefer the world of closed source applications, with little interest in developing software for open source business intelligence.

For these closed source minded software users and creators, there are a few common misconceptions about open source software that should be examined more closely.

Concerns about Open Source Software

In the case of business intelligence, potential users may worry about the safety and security of software that is free for download over the internet. Would valuable and potentially damaging business intelligence information really be safely filtered through free software? Also, such potential users may also be worried about bugs within the open source software, or even a “back door” for the software creator to access the user’s information.

For software creators looking to tackle business intelligence, the open source software model may look like a worthless investment of time and expertise. Why would anybody make business intelligence software available as a completely free download? How would a software creator make any money if the source of his or her labor is freely distributed to anybody who owns a computer?

The Truth about Open Source Software

For those users worried about the safety capabilities of open source business intelligence software, they can rest easy. Since its inception, the creation of open source software has been targeted towards benefitting users, not scamming them. Also, there can be no such thing as a “back door” in open source software, because all of the software’s coding is fully available for everybody to see. If large companies and corporations are using open source business intelligence software, you can be sure that it is a safe and reliable alternative to any of the pricy closed source competition. In addition, open source business software allows users to come together over forums and discussions, where everybody can work together and troubleshoot to update the software into an even better free business intelligence tool.

Hesitant software creators should also realize that they can make big profits from creating something that everybody downloads for free. Unlike closed source companies, open source companies make money by shifting the commercial value away from their business intelligence software “product,” and instead, generate money from something called the “Product Halo.” This means software creators offer the open source software for free, but charge money for such valuable services such as tutorials, technical support, and system integration. Basically, if the open source business intelligence software creator is the most knowledgeable about his or her product, then users and companies will pay them for help in maintaining and updating the free software.

Though closed source software is here to stay, new software users and creators are wise to look into the benefits of the increasingly popular open source business intelligence software model.