Are you taking advantage of Open Source software?
You could be saving hundreds of dollars if you were using Open Source Software. For those who still are unaware of the meaning of Open Source, when it comes to computers, it refers to software that is developed already and you could use at no charge. Yes, you read correctly- free software for the whole world!
It is not for every one though. However, let's take a look at some of the advantages.
Let's say you are a legal firm with 15 employees. Everyone has a desktop computer and a license for Windows, MS-Office and antivirus, maybe even Adobe Acrobat and others.
If you are paying an average of $300 for each MS-Office license, and you have 15 computers, that will amount to $4,500. But depending on the version of each program, your cost could be as high as $700 per station. In that case, you would end up paying up to $10,000 for 15 computers. Although $4500-$10,000 may not seem like an overwhelming sum of money to a business with 15 employees, wouldn't you rather add that money to your bottom line or spend it on marketing services to attract more customers?
What is the scenario with Open Source software? Well, let's say you still want to keep using Windows (I will address the operating systems later). You can still benefit from Open Source software at no cost. If you downloaded and installed OpenOffice from www.openoffice.org or the Symphony suite from Lotus also free of charge, you will have full compatibility with Microsoft Office without the price tag. That $4,500 or $10,000 is now reduced to $0!
If you never heard of those names, let me tell you that you are missing something big. Two huge multinational companies are backing those projects up. They are: Sun microsystems (the creators of the Java language and Solaris which the experts say is the best operating system on the planet) and IBM. The only reason you might have a reasonable complaint about switching is if you use macros with your MS Office suite. This doesn't mean Open Source office suites can not handle macros, they are just interpreted in a different way. Compatibility is not 100% there yet. Nevertheless, if you don't even know what a macro is or if you don't use macros, as 95% of the population doesn't, then you don't have to worry at all. Any Open Source office suite will do the job for you. The GUI (interface) is very similar and intuitive. The benefit is that you saved thousands of dollars and still are fully compatible with the market standards in every sense of the word. In fact, you can save your document created with an open office suite as a .xml or .doc document such as the documents created with the Microsoft office suite.
What else is there?
Well, if you are really into cutting the cost today, you can even save on the operating systems as well. Every license of the operating system adds another $100 per station, or more. If you use LINUX, the Open Source operating system, you pay $0, unless you prefer to use the Red Hat version that comes with a price tag (they charge for the service attached). What can you possible do with LINUX? Well, the possibilities are endless. Of course there are very specific applications that still run only on Windows, such as engineering and analysis software, etc. Some of those are already written for Linux as well. Besides that, everything else is possible: Multimedia, Internet application, Enterprise software, 3d modeling and animation, etc.
This document was written using a laptop running Ubuntu Linux. This website was designed and developed using Open Source Linux applications, tested on a LAMP Ubuntu server and migrated finally to the server that hosts it. That server runs only Red Hat LINUX. Do you get the picture? Literally thousands of applications are available at the Open Source community, and every Linux distribution has access to it.
What are the definite advantages? Well, besides the direct savings, we can mention the following:
Higher level of security. The way Linux is structured makes it almost impossible to hack by a wanna-be-hacker.
No viruses or malware problems. The nature of how Linux is structured makes it difficult to host or spread a virus. There are no .exe files in Linux. Therefore, the cost of antivirus software is non-existent.
Linux evolved from Unix. UNIX was developed from a native computer network environment. In Linux, a network environment is natural and the communication with other computer or network appliances is never a concern.
Linux just works. No blue screen ever. If an application gets its integrity compromised at its core, then that particular application will just stop running and you can restart it again. The computer does not get compromised.
Better use of your RAM. You will feel your computer runs faster and you will soon realize that you can have several applications running without a downturn on the computer speed.
You receive automated upgrades that are not necessarily just patches for holes, such as is the case with Windows most of the time.
Linux is not for everyone. There is a learning curve that could be painful if there is no proper guidance. However, the rewards will surpass the risks by a hundred fold or more. The average human should allow himself the time to see how he can bring more bottom line dollars to his company, instead of giving them to the giant software company.