A definition of Open source:
“When the source code of a computer program is made available
free of charge to the general public, it's known as open source. The
basis of open source software is to produce more useful and bug-free
products for everyone to use. The concept relies on peer review to
find and eliminate bugs in the program code, a process which commercially
developed and packaged programs do not utilize.”
Source - Intel Definition Glossary
The open source model works on the idea of total transparency of software.
This means that when software is developed, all the original source
code is available to public review. As this code is freely available
to everyone it can be changed, developed or deployed as the user sees
The end result of this is that as well as making the software free
of charge, it also means that programs are rapidly developed and modified
to the end users requirements. It also means that bugs are identified
and fixed faster than traditional commercial software. This usually
makes the software
more secure and reliable than paid for software.
In the business world this means that the only money you will have
to pay is for any training and expertise required in the deployment
and running of the system. Although this will not be inherently cheaper
than any other technical support resource, because all the software
is open source if you are unhappy with an existing supplier changing
over to a new supplier will be easier to achieve.
You need look no further than the Internet itself as an example of
how this works. Based on Open Source standards and software it has enabled
different systems to interoperate together in a way a closed network
would never have been able to do. As the software is publicly accessible
it means companies and individuals are able to freely choose what email
software, web browser, ISP or operating system they choose to connect
The Open Source Initiative
(OSI) have defined a set of standards for approving that software is
open source. It presents the following case for open source in the commercial
“The open-source model has a lot to offer the business
world. It's a way to build open standards as actual software, rather
than paper documents. It's a way that many companies and individuals
can collaborate on a product that none of them could achieve alone.
It's the rapid bug-fixes and the changes that the user asks for, done
to the user's own schedule.
The foundation of the business case for open-source is high reliability.
Open-source software is peer-reviewed software; it is more reliable
than closed, proprietary software. Mature open-source code is as bulletproof
as software ever gets.”
Source - OSI “Open Source Case for Business”
A good case study advocating open source software is presented at the
CNET Site detailing how guitar string manufacturers Ernie
Ball moved to open source software