You know open source software, like Linux, is popular with geeks and enterprises. But do you know how it can help your managed services business? Here are five ways open source benefits MSPs.

For the uninitiated, here's a quick definition of open source: Open source software means programs whose source code is freely shared and can be viewed by anyone. Access to source code facilitates modification of the programs and provides users with other freedoms not available from closed-source software.

Open Source Benefits for MSPs

What does that mean for MSPs? Consider the following important benefits that open source affords to companies in the managed services business:

  • Low cost. Most open source programs are free to download and use. This is an obvious benefit of open source as compared to closed-source programs, which usually cost money.
  • Easy to add value. If you're in the managed services business, you make money by adding value to the products and services your clients are using. Since open source software often requires some expertise to use effectively, it's easy for MSPs to add value to open source products. MSPs can provide the expertise and management services that customers need to use open source.
  • Easy to modify. Because anyone can view or modify the source code of open source programs, it's easy to change the way they work. (Yes, this requires some programming skills, but at least you have the freedom to change the code; with closed-source software, modifying programs is virtually impossible, no matter how good you are at programming.) Want to add a new feature or customization to make a service you deliver unique? Open source empowers you to do that.
  • Standards are open. Most open source software is based on open, community-defined standards. These standards guarantee that open source programs can work with one another, even if they are developed by different people. For MSPs, open standards offer two benefits: First, they ensure that it is easy to combine different open source platforms when building a service offering. Second, open standards are attractive to customers because they eliminate worries about being locked into a particular platform. Customers will appreciate it when you build your offerings using open code.
  • It's modular. With open source, you can mix and match different programs and tools in order to build exactly what you want. For instance, if you want to create a Linux-based operating system to power your servers, you can customize it endlessly by adding or subtracting different utilities and applications. You can't do that with closed-source platforms; if you use Windows, for example, you have to run every tool and utility that is built into Windows, whether you actually need it or not. The modular nature of open source makes it easy to build customized platforms for your services that are lean and do exactly what you need them to do, with no bloat.

Open source is more popular than ever; Black Duck Software reports that more than two-thirds of companies are now contributing to open source projects. If you haven't yet explored how open source can help your managed services business, now's the time to start.