IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

The Power of Free

By Contributor
Mon 1 Feb 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Freedom brings flexibility to software. There was a time when all software was open source. Of course, nobody used the terms ‘free software’ or ‘open source’ – it would have been like saying ‘free air’ or ‘open newspapers’.

The idea of making the source code of software a secret came along later. After all, programmers said, if the software doesn’t do exactly what I want, I can just tweak it until it does.

This was the environment the internet was born into. The internet is nothing more than a collection of freely-available standards, and examples of software which implement those standards.

Those standards embody some amazing engineering: the net has scaled from a few nodes at US universities to billions of connected computers. Along the way it’s enabled whole new ways of doing business, not to mention swept away the mess of networking protocols that we had to contend with in the 1980s.

Almost all the software that the internet is built from is free or open source. Examples are the Apache web server that powers over half the websites in the world, the Bind name server which resolves domain names into IP addresses, and the Linux operating system which drives most of the servers on the planet.

Open source and free software are related but different concepts. Neither of them has to be free of cost, although in practice they often are. Open source means just that – you can get a copy of the source code. That’s important because it lets lots of people look at the code, fix bugs, make suggestions, or figure out how to apply it to new situations. The strength of open source is not only that you can see the source code but that anyone can see it, and some of them will have the time and the skills to improve it.

Free software is software released under a licence that guarantees you certain freedoms. The most common free software licence is the General Public Licence or GPL. This is the licence used by Firefox, OpenOffice and Linux.

Free software gives you the freedom to use the software for whatever you want – no more ‘per seat’ costs or client access licences. It guarantees you access to the source code, and it gives you the right to change the software to suit your needs.

The only obligation it places on you is, if you decide to distribute your changed software, you have to do so under the same conditions. Unless you are in the business of distributing software this will have no impact on you. These conditions make free and open source software highly flexible. Do you love a publishing program but can’t get it to integrate with your web CMS? If one or both are open source, you can get a developer to alter it to suit.

Perhaps you’re looking for support for some piece of free software? There are dozens of support forums on the web full of people who have solved the problem already. Many companies in New Zealand specialise in installing and supporting free and open source software. They can tailor free or open source software to meet your exact needs, and you don’t end up paying ongoing software licence fees. And, because you have the source code, you can get anyone to support it, as you aren’t locked in to one support company.

That tends to concentrate the minds of the support companies because they know they have to work hard to keep you. It’s a good deal all round.

As well as running the entire internet, free and open source software powers a range of enterprises from the mighty Google to one-person businesses. The free web content management system Drupal is being used by corporates and governments worldwide, including President Obama’s White House site.

Many businesses have Linux in the data center, and increasingly it’s appearing on desktops, such as in the French Police force, the German Foreign Ministry, and the New Zealand Electoral Enrolment Centre.

Next time you have a software choice to make, you may need to justify why you would use a commercial package. There might not be an open source or free alternative, although this is getting less and less common. Or you might find that you are tied into a contract with an existing software provider, and you’d want to think about the implications of that. But if free or open source solutions are available to you, why not take advantage of their flexibility and zero licensing costs?

You may find that your CEO would like the answer to that question as well.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS launches human-focused responsible innovation initiative
SAS has launched a responsible innovation initiative, furthering its commitment to equity and putting people first.
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils adaptive accessories for disability access
Microsoft is introducing an expansive Inclusive Tech Lab to give people with disabilities greater access to technology through new software features and adaptive accessories.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
IT budget
$20m boost for digital technologies announced
The government is spending an extra $20m over four years on its plan to transform the digital technologies industry.
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Remote Working
IT teams deploy powerful technologies to enable remote work
"We found that IT teams mastered the challenges of remote work last year in large part by employing powerful yet easy-to-use technologies."
Story image
Wireless
SmartCIC, BICS partner to expand wireless service options
SmarCIC has partnered with BICS to increase choice for organisations using fixed wireless services, expanding existing carrier relationships for its CELLSMART division.
Story image
Veryfi
Veryfi announces Mobile Receipt Capture for D2C marketing apps
Veryfi has announced a new enhancement to its portfolio, with Mobile Receipt Capture for direct-to-consumer marketing apps.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Clear Dynamics closes $35M funding round, invests in global growth
The funding is a major milestone and speaks to Clear Dynamics’ vision for AI-enabled ‘composable’ enterprise software, the company states.
Story image
Cybersecurity
CyberArk launches $30M investment fund to advance security
CyberArk has announced the launch of CyberArk Ventures, a $30 million global investment fund dedicated to advancing the next generation of security disruptors.
Story image
Kodari Securities (KOSEC)
NFT trends and opportunities: expert reveals all
The NFT market is growing at an exponential rate, with unprecedented liquidity. Here we explore how businesses can profit.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Remote Working
How organisations can meet employees' changing expectations
The global employment market has shifted dramatically in favour of employees, sparking the so-called great resignation, in which people are leaving unsatisfying roles in search of greener pastures.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Unlocking the next digital frontier for educational institutions
Understanding where to invest in technology can be challenging for education institutions, especially after the COVID-19 disruptions.
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
Microsoft
SAS Viya on Microsoft Azure to deliver 204% return - study
The Forrester Total Economic Impact study finds SAS Viya on Microsoft Azure brings a 204% return on investment over three years.
Story image
Power / Energy
Keysight Technologies introduces new next-gen DPT solution
Keysight Technologies has announced its new next-generation Double-Pulse Tester (DPT) with the PD1550A Advanced Dynamic Power Device Analyser.
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
Digital Transformation
Physical security systems guide the hybrid workplace to new heights
Organisations are reviewing how data gathered from their physical security systems can optimise, protect and enhance their business operations in unique ways.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Power / Energy
SmartCIC report reveals top five 5G carriers in the world
The Global Cellular Performance Survey also found that 5G networks are delivering high download speeds but lagging in upload speeds.
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
Why enterprise records management should be part of any digital transformation strategy
Modern organisations create and rely upon an enormous volume of content, and digital records make up a significant proportion of that content.
Story image
SaaS
Cloudflare launches instant serverless database for dev teams
"Today we’re announcing our first serverless database which we expect will quickly become one of the largest databases in the world."
Story image
Ransomware
Ingram Micro Cloud adds Bitdefender solutions to marketplace
Ingram Micro Cloud has announced the expanded availability of Bitdefender solutions on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Talend
Talend introduces new data health solutions for businesses
Talend has announced its latest version of Talend Data Fabric, with the release of Talend Trust Score enabling data teams to establish a foundation for data health.
Story image
Fortinet
Fortinet's Security Fabric hits new record for integrations
The Fortinet Security Fabric has surpassed 500 technology integrations with more than 300 Fabric-Ready Technology Alliance Partners.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Safety
Voxel hits total funding of $18M following ongoing wins
Since raising its seed round in September, Voxel has grown at pace, by decreasing on-site injuries by upwards of 80% and increasing operational productivity.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Oracle
Prophecy International migrates VMware environment with Oracle Cloud Solution
The Adelaide-based global provider is using the solution to eliminate the need to re-write applications, therefore allowing the company to enhance its business operations.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from IronNet
Michael Ehrlich joins us today to discuss the history of IronNet and the crucial role the company plays in the cyber defence space.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom welcomes new marketing codes for the telecom industry
The Commerce Commission is welcoming the creation of new marketing codes for the telecommunications industry.
Story image
SAS
New SAS service overcomes subscription fatigue for media companies
SAS has launched SAS 360 Match which helps media companies move towards a AVOD model to generate revenue as subscribers cancel.