NaN-tic Jun 11, 2018
The great bulk of the ERP offer is based on proprietary programs, that is, of those that buy licenses for individual use. Incorporating free software alternatives into the product search will increase the possibilities of finding a product that is strategically interesting for the way the company works.
THE FIRST NAMES YOU SEE – THOSE WHO PAY THE MOST. That’s how it is and we’ll prove it to you. You’ve begun searching and the products of major manufacturers have appeared on your screen: Microsoft (Navision), SAP (Business One), Sage (Murano), Oracle, etc. It’s important to put them on your list and bear them in mind, and do this with others that are more ‘home-made’, which will also come up. However, all of them have one thing in common; they are proprietary programs.
Proprietary programs are what have always been around; Windows, Outlook or Office. These are the programs, the ones with the licence you never looked at or filled in. You know that you cannot legally make copies of these programs. The users of these programs do not look into whether the program does exactly what they want, or if it does something else - that they didn’t want (e.g. Microsoft products were found to send user information to the manufacturer without consent).
We buy and install these programs and there are even those that are installed at source. If you want new versions, you normally end up paying for them and if you don’t want the new versions, you stop paying and that’s that. Take a look at your product licence, let’s face it, it’s daunting, but it always offers you peace of mind. Although there have been cases where users installed an ERP, thinking that they had bought it, however they were – according to the licence – merely renting the program, which meant paying the additional costs entailed by updates and new versions.
In terms of free software, all of this is radically different. What we call free software or open source programmes are those programs that may be modified or copied freely and legally, as users have access to the source code. We will go into the pros and cons involved shortly, however, by way of introduction, this feature dispels any anxieties you might have when making program copies. With free software, the idea of a ‘licence’ is totally without meaning. You can copy or install a licence in as many computers as you want, without having to worry about it – and it’s completely legal and free.
To explain this in a little more detail, we’ll use a CULINARY METAPHOR.
A licence is a set of constraints that the intellectual owner of a product imposes on those people to whom he authorises its use. Traditionally, computer programs have placed severe restrictions on purchasers and users with respect to making new copies or modifying them in order to adapt them to new needs. Many programs are in fact so well-guarded that is impossible to examine them professionally in order to see if they really do what we want them to do.
It could be said that a source code is to software, what a recipe is to a special dish. A chef may decide to do three things to a dish that he has created: firstly, he may decide not to make the recipe public. This means that whoever wants to eat that dish has to go to his restaurant. This would be the case of proprietary programs, which are the most common these days. If you want to use the program, you buy it, but you won’t know what it’s made of.
However the chef may also decide to explain what ingredients are included in the recipe – this means you can be certain that the dish is not harmful; an act appreciated by those with gluten or lactose intolerance or who are allergic to some foodstuffs. But the chef decides not to disclose the steps followed in the creation of his dish. In IT terms, this would be like a licence that allows us to see the code, but not reproduce it or adapt the program to our own needs.
Finally, the chef may decide to facilitate the entire recipe, so that anyone who wants to make the dish at home or adapt it to their own tastes and needs may do so. In this case the chef can only make a living if he is capable of constant innovation. The dish will not be exclusive, and any diner may decide at any time, to make the dish himself. Perhaps you want to be surprised by new dishes and recipes – in fact the clients at the former number one restaurant in the world “El Bulli” did not go there simply due to the fame of Chef Ferran Adrià, they also went because he was able to surprise them. And the same thing occurs with free software, it’s not enough to do something well once and then live off that feat, because everyone can copy it and even improve it, as they will have all the information they need.
And that’s the end of the CULINARY METAPHOR, because in reality, things are much more complex. With free software you can find over forty different licences, however they will always have the common factor that the entire ‘recipe’ is provided and purchasers can use them whenever they want to and adapt them. The aim of this guide is not to provide a master’s degree on licences for its readers; however it is worthwhile mentioning that for those interested, the website www.tldrlegal.com features clear, intelligible summaries of the differences and characteristics of a large number of free licences.
The problem is that during the research phase, some of these alternatives, which may be strategically interesting, and which should at least be taken into consideration, do not appear in a browser’s preliminary Google search results.
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