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Open source or SaaS - which is better

Created on:  19.08.2019

Open source or SaaS – which type of online store is the best?

Everyone who wants to create an online store, expects only the best solutions. Parallel to the online store number, increases the number of online stores software. For us, the choice is only one - open source. It guarantees almost unlimited possibilities in the case of improvements and customizations. But our state of mind can be subjective, so let's jump into detailed comparison.

Open source versus SaaS – overview

According to name, Open source is a software based on open license. Everyone has access to the source code, but it's only the advantage. On its security take care programmers from the whole world. You can be pretty sure that each security vulnerability will be fixed much faster than in the SaaS tool. The fundamentals are based on open source. Linux The Linux operating system regulates the operation of Web servers, and the Apache Web server application negotiates data transfer between the worldwide server infrastructure and personal devices. Thanks to Twitter Bootstrap you are able to create themes and websites easily. What is important, many mainstream companies became open to open source, for example Facebook and Google made their solutions public to gain as much as they can from open source community. 

Open source in numbers - only on GitHub you can find almost 5 milion of respositories. If you add SourceForge and Ohloh to this ranking, we can say that this industry is big. 

Open source versus SaaS – the simplest differences

The most important difference is a fact that open source is for free and you are the owner of source code. In the case of SaaS application, you don’t have access to source code. SaaS mostly are ready to use Solutions. After first payment you receive the ready store with complete functionality. Mostly is less advanced than open source softwares and have smaller marketplaces with third party plugins.

SaaS softwares come with hosting. You just have to pay the monthly fee and you receive the working product. In the open source, you will have to find the right hosting for your application. But wait a second, is it a problem? Of course not. In the cooperation with DigitalOcean, you are able to host fully working copy of GrandNode on droplet just for 5$ per month. Come on. 

More details about GrandNode on DigitalOcean can be found on their marketplace, here.

If you haven't heard about the DigitalOcean Marketplace and GrandNode One Click app, please check our blog post about that.

Open source versus SaaS – pros and cons

Advantages of the SaaS Solutions:

- ready to use a few minutes after registration,

- simple configuration,

- ready integrations implemented out of the box,

- support from the application provider,

- software provider creates backups,

- automatic updated delivered trhoughout the entire subscription period part,

- no need to have specialized technical knowledge to run the store,

- low cost of launching store in the first year,

Disadvantages of the SaaS Solutions:

- dependence on the software provider,

- new functionalities depend on the software provider,

- the possibility of data loss if the service is shut down by the provider,

- no code interference,

- closed list of integration,

- extended waiting time for updates,

- only one man is responsible for security

Advantages of open source:

- Price – you don’t have to pay the monthly subscription fee

- Customization – open source has much better possibility to customization and personalization

- Extensions – you have a large number of third party extensions ready to download or purchase

- Themes – larger database of themes, that can be used in your store,

- Community – each open source software has an active community, If you have a problem, you are able to receive help from the active, helpful community. The biggest Open source providers, have their own forums or groups where programmers are able to contribute to its development. Sometimes users also create meetups, community groups and regional groups.

- Updates – the creators of the platform want to constantly improve their product. So you can count on regular system updates, that guarantee the security of your online store and make it meet all the latest technical requirements. However, the system updates are not as automated as in SaaS software.

- Specialists - you will most likely need them if you do not have sufficient knowledge about the given Open Source software. They will help you in the development of the store - updating the platform, making changes and any corrections or installing modules on a regular basis. The upside is that the more popular the platform, the easier it will be for you to find subcontractors for its implementation.

- Development - thanks to having full control in building your store, you have greater development opportunities for Open Source platforms than for SaaS solutions.

- Advanced options - Open Source allows you to run several online stores on one engine: you can have several language versions, different currencies, multi warehouse or multi tenants.

Disadvantages of Open source Solutions:

- Implementation costs - as we mentioned earlier, implementing an Open Source platform involves costs. You must consider the expenses associated with employing professionals who will be able to help you implement the online store. Depending on the platform and implementation method, the costs may be several thousand, for the simplest system and store based on template graphics, or several hundred thousand, for the largest stores based on individual designs and advanced features.

- Technical support - the creators of Open Source platforms do not offer direct technical support. You must provide them for yourself. This usually means employing a subcontractor and further costs. For less advanced platforms, support will be needed mainly for implementation, updates and development. However, if you have a large store, built on the most advanced systems, then it is worth using monthly, constant support.

- Updates - they don't happen automatically and you have to do them yourself. This is not a problem for individual, small updates. However, if you have to make a lot of changes in the structure of the store, it may require more attention or the employment of a specialist who is familiar with the subject. Hosting - for a store placed on an Open Source platform to work efficiently, you must meet advanced technical requirements. This is often associated with the purchase of a dedicated hosting platform.

- Add-on compatibility – enormous number of extensions can be an advantage as well as a disadvantage. The creation of add-ons by various creators can be problematic. When choosing specific solutions for your store, you need to make sure that they are compatible with each other and do not cause site instability. Finally, you have to choose only the best extensions, because sometimes you may encounter Solutions that don’t work.

Open source versus Saas – Costs of maintenance

GrandNode can be installed on the simplest DigitalOcean droplet, so the monthly cost is very low - 5$. According to its wide range of features, you don't have to install additional plugins, so you receive ready to use online store just for 5 dollars. 

Open source or Saas – what should I choose?

The companies that can benefit most from Open Source software are mainly:

- smaller stores, which care about rapid development and need an efficient platform for this,

- medium and large stores, which this type of platform will be allowed to develop freely without additional restrictions imposed by SaaS platforms,

- stores that value flexibility and want to tailor the entire site to their needs,

- stores that are at a high level of development and care about the extensive capabilities offered by the most advanced Open Source platforms.

No article will give you a clear and ready answer which is better - Open Source or SaaS. The decision is yours, but before you make it. then check your needs. Prepare a list of requirements, compare it with features that gives you particular solution and then make decision. If you are not sure, what will be good for you, just ask us, as a specialist in the e-commerce industry, we will help you with pleasure.

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