The field of business IT is never short on insider jargon. Voice over IP (VoIP) and its long list of acronym-laden add-on features is a great example. While you don’t need to understand every term, you should at least learn the differences between open source and proprietary systems.
What are “proprietary” systems?
When most companies release VoIP software, such as Microsoft’s Skype, they often package it in a way that makes it almost impossible for users to view or alter the programming code. By keeping it locked down, they can retain control over which hardware and software systems it is compatible with and prevent hackers from uncovering vulnerabilities.
Pros and cons
One of the biggest benefits of a proprietary VoIP system is a consistent user experience across compatible hardware devices and software integrations. Brand-name handsets and third-party software must be programmed by the VoIP system’s developer to be compatible, so you know everything will be optimized for a uniform and reliable user experience.
But keep in mind that, in the majority of cases, the added security and polished integrations of these systems cost more than open-source alternatives.
What are “open-source” systems?
The programming code that enables open-source VoIP solutions to work is free and accessible to anyone. Open-source systems are made to be more of a starting point than a finished solution, which means they’re usually pretty rough around the edges until you customize them.
Pros and cons
The two best things about an open-source system are the cost and the flexibility. The core system will be totally free, but tailoring it to your desktops, handsets, and servers will require a fair amount of time and technical expertise. This usually requires a larger upfront investment when compared to proprietary systems, but will pay off with lower operational costs as time goes on.
The tradeoffs between open-source and proprietary systems are fairly even. The former is often better for business owners who prioritize keeping costs low, while the latter is usually better for those who prefer refined solutions. Choosing between the two comes down to your customer service model, IT resources, and business priorities.
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Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.