What is Open Source?

The term open source (OS or OSS for short) denotes software whose source code is publicly accessible and can be viewed, changed and used by anyone. Most open source software can be used free of charge.

The opposite of open source is closed source. The source code of this software is not publicly accessible and may not be changed, used or passed on. It is distributed commercially with the help of licences.

Difference between open source and freeware

Freeware refers to software that is made available free of charge by the author. However, the source code is not freely accessible and may not be modified or distributed. Therein lies the difference to OSS.

Advantages of Open Source

Low costs

The Most open source software is free of charge accessible. And even paid OSS is for the most part much cheaper compared to closed software alternatives.

Independence from commercial providers

Software from commercial providers pursues their corporate goals. Thus, there is a certain dependency, which can cause problems especially when the software no longer brings in enough profit. In most cases, the software is no longer supported or offered by the manufacturer over time and the customer has to look for alternatives.

With open source, this problem does not exist to the same extent because no, or only low monetisation is available.


Since the Code editable at any time it can also be customised at any time. It is possible to delete unnecessary functions or add missing ones. In this way, individually suitable solutions can be sought and advanced.

This is possible either with the help of our own expertise, with the support of the community or with commercial experts.


The exclusion of competitors through their own data formats and systems tends to be a hindrance to open source, therefore much emphasis on interoperability (a system has the ability to cooperate with other systems). As a result, there are much fewer compatibility problems with open source than with closed source.


This is because the code is checked several times by many developers, some of whom are very good, errors and security gaps are quickly noticed. With closed source, it usually takes longer.

Disadvantages of Open Source

Dependence on an active community

There is no claim to a guarantee or support against a manufactureras is the case with closed source applications. Therefore, with open source there is a certain dependence on an active community in terms of support and further development.

High training and knowledge expenditure

OSS is usually not as well-known and beginner-friendly for laypersons as the widely used commercial products. Thus the use of OSS often requires more familiarisation, training and expertise.

What is popular open source software as a business solution?

For ETL, Reporting, OLAP/Analysis and Data Mining

Pentaho by Hitachi Vantara offers a collection of Business Intelligence-software, which are free of charge in the basic version. Solutions are offered for the following areas ETLReporting, OLAP/Analysis and Data mining provided.

As an ETL tool, Pentaho Data Integration (PDI for short) offers connection possibilities to various Databases. Through further plug-ins, connections to other systems are also possible, such as to SAP with the help of ProERPconn and to Navision with the NaviX Table plug-in. Also Big Data-Pentaho Data Integration counts processing as one of its strengths.

Pentaho BI Suite offers one of the few business intelligence solutions in the open source sector.

For Data Virtualization

Data Virtualisation can be seen as the opposite of the ETL process, as the data remains in its original systems and the virtualisation component accesses it directly and makes it available for use.

Denodo Express from Denodo Technologies Inc. offers an open source solution for data virtualisation. It connects and integrates local and cloud-based data sources, as well as Big Data, with each other. This data is made available to end users, enterprise applications, dashboards, portals, intranet, search and other tools.

OpenLooKeng from Huawei has also been available as open source since mid-2020 and offers uniform SQL interfaces for accessing different data sources.

For data labelling

Data labelling is essential for Machine learningIt provides the existing data with the required characteristics, for example, whether a picture shows a person or not.

There are several data labelling tools available as open source. Some are specialised in certain file formats and others can process all of them.

Examples of data labelling tools for images only:

  • bbox-visualizer
  • hover
  • Labelme
  • Yolo-mark

Examples of data labelling tools for text only:

  • dataqa
  • Hubdoccano

Examples of data labelling tools for audio, images and text:

  • awesome-data-labelling
  • Label studio