An Initial Examination of Free and Proprietary Software-Selection in Organizations

An Initial Examination of Free and Proprietary Software-Selection in Organizations

Damien J. Sticklen (Curtin University, Australia) and Theodora Issa (Curtin University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2779-6.ch016
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This article presents the findings of a study concerning organisational software-selection in the context of proprietary and “Free Software”. Proprietary software with its inherent benefits and drawbacks remains dominant over Free Software in many business contexts. In contrast, the arrival of disruptive approaches to applying technology, such as cloud-computing, almost certainly mandates a heterogeneous software environment. However, this paper abstracts to the organisational context, as opposed to solely concentrating on the technical aspects, so that broader issues surrounding both proprietary software and Free Software adoption are brought into focus and may provide academics and practitioners with insight into what many would consider an information technology-centric matter. Contemporary multi-disciplinary literature addressing the areas of software-selection methodology, architectures for service delivery, and software types, are combined with recent findings from primary research in order to draw initial conclusions on the current state of software-selection in organisations.
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Executives are mandated to evaluate, direct the development, and monitor the performance of work-flow mechanisms including functions, processes, and tasks in order to achieve organisational goals (Standards Australia & Standards New Zealand, 2010). In pursuing efficiency, organisations typically rely on software to facilitate these aspects of management. This implies that software-selection, at a minimum, involves some degree of strategic input from an organisation’s executive.

Hauge et al. (2009) state that the adoption of Free Software is widespread amongst companies which have increasingly sought modular solutions to business problems. However, there is evidence that shows that GNU/Linux, the traditional platform for Free Software distribution has an estimated market share of just over one percent of all computers globally (Net Applications, 2010; StatCounter, 2010). This implies either that business computing is a small segment in the overall computing market, or that proprietary operating systems dominate in enterprises. Hauge et al.'s (2009) research also suggests that the process of software-selection undertaken by developers in this context is not grounded by a generalised framework. Considering that the general purpose of software-acquisition is to solve a problem related to business processes in a structured way, it would be reasonable to expect that the process would be at least as systematic as that which is suggested by Whitten and Bentley (2007) and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. One reason why this might not be the case is that the adoption of Free Software is expected by some implementers to be fiscally low-risk (Raab, 2007).

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