Why Open Source?

Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.

That’s how the Open Source Initiative (OSI), a non-profit corporation formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source, introduces Open Source as.

We feel most organisations and businesses can connect to the following key words: better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in. And as stated earlier, that’s what adopting Open Source promises you over the long run. No wonder Open Source Software powers the IT infrastructures of many of the Fortune 500 companies.

We, at Keen & Able, believe in the mantra of Open Source. Our greatest strength lies in understanding your organisation’s needs and then build on the huge number of open-source solutions that cater to your specific environment.

Economic Impact of Free and Open Source Software
— A Study in India

The above title belongs to a case study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore’s Rahul De. In September 2009, he released this paper based on twenty case studies of Indian organisations drawn from government departments, commercial firms and educational institutions. We reproduce the his findings below:

  • FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) is used by all the twenty organisations. FOSS use may be as an operating system on a desktop or server, or as an application. Some of the benefits realized by the organisations studied are as follows:
    • The IT @ School project of Kerala replaced Windows software with FOSS on 50,000 desktops in schools across the state. Tangible benefits amounted to Rs 490 million ($ 10.2 million).
    • Great Market (name changed), a large e-commerce firm, adopted FOSS for servers, MIS development, document management and for desktops. The savings from desktops alone came to Rs 3 million ($ 63,000).
    • Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), one of the largest insurers in India, with an IT infrastructure of 3500 servers and 30,000 desktops, saved about Rs 420 million ($ 8.75 million) by adopting FOSS.
    • The New India Assurance company, a general insurance firm, having 1100 offices, and an IT infrastructure of 1500 servers and 7000 desktops saved about Rs 800 million ($ 16.67 million) in tangible and intangible costs.
    • GGG (name changed) is a medium-sized e-commerce solutions IT firm that relies heavily on FOSS. GGG saved about Rs 3.6 millions ($ 75,000) by using FOSS on its desktops.
    • IT for Change is an NGO with about 30 employees. They use FOSS extensively on all their servers and desktops and estimated tangible savings of about Rs 0.12 million ($ 2.5 thousand) per annum (on an IT budget of Rs 2.1 million or $44,000).
    • IIC (affiliated with Delhi University) is an institution of higher education that has adopted FOSS. The tangible and intangible benefits for an infrastructure of 100 desktops and 5 servers is about Rs 1.75 million ($ 36,000).
  • The most important reason for adopting FOSS was to save costs on the acquisition of IT. This factor was evident, with varying degrees of importance, in 18 of the 20 organisations studied.
  • The economic impact of FOSS was measured by three principal means:
    • FOSS as a substitute for more expensive desktop operating systems and office productivity applications
    • FOSS as a substitute for more expensive server software
    • FOSS enabled cost savings from complementary products such as anti-virus software required on Windows desktops
  • The forecast cost savings in the year 2010 from replacement of proprietary software with FOSS software is depicted in the table below. All numbers are estimates in Rs millions.
    Replacement by FOSSCost Savings
    50% of desktop operating system sold in the retail market with FOSS alternative. Saving assumed to be Rs 3600 per unit.Rs 9,847 million
    ($205 million)
    50% of desktop office productivity tools sold in the retail market with FOSS products. Saving assumed to be Rs 16500 per unit.Rs 45,152 million
    ($940 million)
    50% of desktop software sold in the enterprise market with FOSS products. Saving assumed to be Rs 20000 per unit.Rs 46,388 million
    ($966 million)
    TotalRs 101,387 million
    ($2,111 million)
  • At a very conservative estimate the cost savings for use of FOSS on servers, as an operating system or as an application, is likely to Rs 1,380 million ($ 28.75 million) in 2010.
  • Anti-virus software sales in 2010 is likely to touch Rs 20,000 million ($714 million). This is a conservative estimate based on ceteris paribus assumptions (that all else will remain the same). This entire amount is a cost that can be avoided if FOSS products are adopted.
  • The ability to innovate with FOSS has very strong intangible benefits. These benefits have to do with being able to try out new software, learn new skills, create new products, and be able to distribute freely.

You can download the complete study here.