Software: As open Source or as Convenient Service

Technology is trying to overhaul the old school methodologies of business from a long time now. Technology has leaped a high jump in the past decade, providing humans with easy and fast ways of everyday tasks. After forming commune with smartphones, AI, and virtual reality, technology is now coming after the hardware. SaaS and cloud computing are the new waves of technology that are being used in small and mid-business to minimize the overall cost of the production. Cloud technologies like SaaS are threatening the world of old on-site and open source software alongside with their functionality. Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation refers SaaS to Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS). According to him, the use of SaaS is a violation of the principles of free software.

Setting it up

On-premise software installation can be a long tedious afternoon task. It requires the perfect hardware and software combination to work accurately. Open source software is generally free, but they pluck expenses from user’s pocket via additional packages which include design, extensions, plugins, and themes. For example, WordPress is extremely helpful free website builder but requires additional costs in themes. Furthermore, the starting and running up a software requires the user to conversant with technical skills. The software requires certain hardware needs that are mandatory to be filled in order to use the software at its peak performance. The Internet is not required in most cases, but it is always required in order to update any software. Software updates depend upon the software developers, whether they will fix the issues or bring new features and also whether the updates will be free or not. It should also be noted that the support for the software will definitely end in future.

SaaS on the other hand just requires a computer, internet connection and a subscription to a software service. This eliminates the need for maintaining high power computing machines to fulfill the requirements of the software. SaaS services are run on provider’s servers, hosted by the provider, managed by the provider, and updated by the provider. Such services eradicate the factors of technical knowledge and extensions/plugins comes together in a single package. These kinds of wide integration are pre-installed and provide smooth interaction with the user.


As SaaS is accessed by users via a browser, the service is licensed on a subscription basis, most commonly a monthly fee or an annual fee. As it is hosted from a remote location, it’s the provider’s responsibily of maintaining the hardware. Such services are future proof as the providers will take care of any upcoming needs. Updates are rolled out and installed without the user’s input, eliminating all the hassles related to updating. Additionally, security and performance standards are also met by the provider.

Open source software is created by people who are passionate about software programming. Not only they provide the executable file, they also provide its programming code. Users can modify the source as per their requirement and there are lots of openly available enhancements. Although, consumers must be aware of open source licensing terms and they must check it regularly as they as present in large numbers and gets updated with brevity. Open source provides the flexibility only if the consumer can spare the time, energy, and expertise.

Cost, control, and security

For startups, a low number of users, and short-term deployment, SaaS can take the overall cost over the open source. However, if the users are more than twenty then the open source is the best cost-effective alternative. Open source requires large hardware to set up, a licensed operating system, facilities, support, and most important salaries for the personnel. In terms of control and security, open source offers the full control over the user data. In SaaS, the security is guaranteed by the provider and customers have to agree to service level agreements regarding backup and privacy. The conundrum arises when customers have to migrate data from one service to another. It gets difficult in migrating the data over the internet and sometimes, the data is held hostage when a customer tries to leave a provider and customers can be stuck with dead-end applications with no access to their data. Organisations can’t entrust their data with third-party providers.

For small and mid business, SaaS is ready to go, but for organizations, if they can’t afford, can opt out for on-premise software. In the end, SaaS has to spend some time to fully acquire the attributes provided by on-premise software so it depends on the consumer how they want to move forward with their business.