Does Open Source mean free?
Open source software is free from up-front license fees, so you don’t have to pay a per year user fee. Depending on the software, you may need to purchase specialist help to implement and support users of the solution, often these come about as ‘partners’ of the open source software. Any enhancements made to the open source code are fed back into the community without cost, this is really useful for NHS trusts as they can share best practice within the community.
How is Open Source software licenced?
Open Source software is licenced through an open source agreement (such as GPL) that allows organisations to develop and tailor the software to suit local needs, for example, Totara LMS are licensed through GPL. The licence obliges organisations to make any changed source code available to the community to ensure the product remains open and beneficial for all. As a result this reduces the total cost of ownership in a sharing model.
Is Open Source safe?
The increasing adoption of open source solutions has resulted in a growing network of user and developer communities who continually review, troubleshoot and improve software code. The open source partner has a responsibility to support each NHS trust within their Service Level Agreement (SLA).
What support can I expect?
Support is available either from the communities involved in the development and usage of the software or from the original developer organisation, for example, these could be other NHS trusts. The SLA agreement will also give you, as a NHS trust, a support agreement where you can call a partner who can fix bugs for you and walk you through new functionality.
Are we locked into a particular partner of open source?
No, given the open source element, you have the flexibility to move from one vendor to another. This gives you control if you are unhappy with the service provided.