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Why Professional Open Source Software?

The Professional Open Source Software (POSS) model combines traditional OSS projects run by a community of software enthusiasts, with a professional company and fee paying client sponsors. Participants benefit from each and the synergy provides for additional advantages

The project user community adds strong supportive, critical peer reviews and world wide adoption of the software, while the company backs the project with full-time engineering staff, formal support and service level agreements sponsored by fee-paying customersPOSS model by Pentaho

Customers benefit from the increased quality of the software, best of breed design, and increased traction enabled by the product's community. The model is powerful because the customers, partners, engineers, and open source communities are all self-motivated to behave in ways that are beneficial to themselves and, as a side effect, to all

Pentaho's POSS diagram. Also see their Professional Open Source and Beekeeper models

By implication, Linus Torvalds, confirms this principle in a BBC interview recently, Linux succeeded thanks to selfishness and trust. Extracts:

I actually think the real idea of open source is for it to allow everybody to be "selfish", not about trying to get everybody to contribute to some common good. In other words, I do not see open source as some big goody-goody "let's all sing kumbaya around the campfire and make the world a better place"

No, open source only really works if everybody is contributing for their own selfish reasons

Big universities with computer science departments had people who were interested in the same kinds of things. And the copyright protected those kinds of people. If you're a person who is interested in operating systems, and you see this project that does this, you don't want to get involved if you feel like your contributions would be somehow "taken advantage of", but with the GPLv2 [license], that simply was never an issue

I'm relieved that Microsoft seems to have at least to some degree stopped seeing Linux as the enemy. The whole "cancer" and "un-American" thing was really pretty embarrassing.

Open source TCO

If any of our references has to be mentioned in context, it must be David Wheeler's comprehensive research on open source issues. A few extracts from the Total Cost of Ownership chapter:

For ongoing expenses, several studies listed by Wheeler for differing environments, report TCO savings through reduced IT staff, lower hardware costs and licensing:

  • 40% to 54% for application servers
  • 50% on database servers
  • 19% to 36% on the desktop


Lower hardware requirement

Open Source software generally run on lower specification hardware than is required by bloated proprietary systems, delaying hardware upgrades, specifically on the desktop, and saving costs

Lower systems administration costs

The internet was born on open source and the robust, secure and industry proven servers proved to lower support cost in study after study

No annual license fees

On open source server and desktops, labs do not have to pay any operating system, database, mail, fax server, or office application license fees
OS service providers charge for services rendered only, the bulk of which will be levied during LIMS implementation projects, followed by support contracts thereafter

Unlimited users

No license per seat

Intangible OSS advantages

Best of Breed

By integrating requirements from a wide spectrum of lab disciplines voluntarily put forward and discussed in the community, superior designs are arrived at. These are evaluated and tested by many more 'eyes' than would've been with proprietary software, ensuring robust efficient installations

No vendor lock in. No fixed upgrade cycle

Master your own destiny and switch vendors when yours don't perform or hand over support and development functions to in-house IT departments while maintaining the backing and resources available from the LIMS' community

Upgrade the LIMS only when you need to. With functionality you actually need


Spend software budgets on system enhancements. All the above savings can be put to much better use enhancing your LIMS and maintaining your competitive edge. Labs have full control over their LIMS development - Home of Bika Lab Systems, implementers of web based open source LIMS, Plone hosting and content management systems   Powered by Plone, the open source content management system. Customised and maintained by Bika Lab Systems