Why Open Source Geospatial
Why Open Source Geospatial?
Do not make mistake of comparing proprietary and Open Source applications based on price. Open Source applications do typically offer lower initial deployment costs, but the real value comes from other factors intrinsic to Open Source.
OSGeo applications are built from the ground up to communicate with each other. Instead of exploiting the perceived value of "locking-in" customers with proprietary formats and applications that only operate within their own proprietary software stack, Open Source projects are designed to "stand on the shoulders of giants". Using this approach, many applications are built that are excellent at what they do, and communicate directly with other applications that do other tasks better. Instead of choosing an application because it works with your other software, you can choose the application that best meets your needs.
Proprietary applications typically have a development cycle that means new features do not show up in the product release for considerable amounts of time; at least 18 months in many cases. Because Open Source Geospatial applications are user-driven, they can respond rapidly to market changes. New features can often be specified, designed, and added to the main code stream within weeks, sometimes within days. For a rapidly evolving sector like geospatial, this can be an immesurable competitive advantage.
Instead of buying one or more monolithic applications where you use ten percent of the functionality, you can build solutions that meet your needs exactly be choosing from the many interoperable components and applications that are readily available. Modular solution development improves your agility and allows you to make the solution match your workflow, increasing operational efficiency.
Proprietary applications typically offer tiered support, requiring that you wade through several levels of expertise before you get the answers you need... if they are ever forthcoming. Open Source applications give you access to both a strong community of users that have experienced the same issues that you are having, and direct access to the application developers if it is needed. This level of support is simply not available for proprietary applications. If you would prefer to pay for support, several expert consultancies offer support contracts for OSGeo applications at very reasonable rates. In either case, you benefit through direct and immediate access to domain experts without having to deal with call-center scripts.
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