IT Helpdesk System Open Source

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How to Decide if an Open Source IT Help Desk System is Right for you

These days, regardless of whether you’re a consumer or a business, the chances are that if you’re looking for software of any description, you’ll probably have a choice of both open-source and proprietary options. This includes IT helpdesk software. Just because you can go open-source, however, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. Here is a quick guide to help you decide if an open-source IT help desk system is right for you.

Open-source software is free to use

If you’re an SMB on a tight budget, then you may be tempted to jump at any chance you get to achieve your goals for free. This is understandable, just remember that costs can be hidden. For example, in the open-source community, it is quite common for programs and code to be made available for free, but for any further development and/or support to be chargeable, plus there’s an obligation to share developments with the community.

When you buy proprietary software, you may or may not benefit from further updates. Usually, standalone purchases are not updated but subscription-based purchases are updated. Standalone benefits will, however, typically get bug fixes and security patches (if necessary) whereas neither of these is guaranteed with open-source software, in fact, nothing is. Proprietary software will also typically come with some level of free support.

IT Helpdesk System Open Source

It’s also worth noting that some open-source software is supported by adverts and at this point in time adverts can be more than intrusive, they can be a security threat. There is a strategy called malvertising which basically involves buying up legitimate advertising space and using the adverts to transmit malware. In some cases, users can be infected just by an advert being fully-loaded on screen.

Open-source software can be customized

For some companies, the major draw of open-source software is not its price tag but the fact that the code is available to them and hence the software can be customized to their exact requirements. This may indeed be a significant win if you have very specific needs which just aren’t likely to be met by proprietary software, at least not at the same sort of cost. In reality, however, it’s very debatable how much of an advantage this would be to the average SMB, especially given that most proprietary software does allow some degree of customization.

It’s also worth noting that the fact that the code is publicly available to legitimate users also means that it is publicly available to cybercriminals and this can be a very serious issue. It is not necessarily an insurmountable one. For example, WordPress powers about a third of the internet even though it is open-source. Those who use it just need to take effective measures to protect themselves. Open-source software can, however, raise IT headaches some SMBs at least would simply prefer to avoid.

Open-source software avoids issues with license management

This used to be a big selling point for open-source software, although it’s debatable how much of an advantage it is to modern SMBs. If you are cloud-native or work substantially in the cloud, then you’ll be buying licenses on demand and if the license expires then so will your ability to use the software, so it will be immediately obvious when you need to renew. On the other hand, if you are still using on-premises infrastructure and standalone software, then you may be very happy to have an alternative to navigating the complexities of licensing agreements.

Open-source software can help eliminate issues with vendor lock-in

What this means in practice will depend on your individual situation. As a rule of thumb, however, the fewer software vendors work in your sector, the more seriously you should look at open-source options. There are two main reasons for this.

Firstly, if a vendor goes out of business, you could find yourself high and dry and scrambling to find a solution. You’re never going to be in this situation with open-source software as you can just hire developers to support it.

Secondly, the fewer vendors operate in your sector, the easier it can be for vendors to put their clients over a barrel and strongarm them into accepting unfavorable and very one-sided agreements.

Having said that, this is a somewhat unlikely scenario with IT help desk software, which has a large customer base and a lot of support from vendors. It’s also worth noting that many factors can contribute to companies feeling like they are “locked-in” to a vendor. Some of the most common ones include industry standards, ease of finding staff who know a program already or the fact that one vendor is simply far better than their nearest competition.

If you’d like to know more about open-source IT help desk systems, please click here now to contact Aperio.IT.

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