Whether you’re a novice Web developer or seasoned CIO, at some point you will require technical support with either a new IT development, task or project. What  type of support will you want? With open source software, the flexibility and choice is yours.

That’s because the open source community’s flexible software support resources – like commercial, paid and free options – tend to overshadow that of proprietary software vendors. Specifically, proprietary technical support is one-dimensional – a particular vendor can only provide guidance on a product-specific level, which engenders exorbitant consultation fees and limited customer support. In contrast, technical support from the open source community is fluid  – individuals can choose from support options that are backed by a readily available community of supporters.

Whether you need help choosing an open source license compliance vendor to audit your code or assistance with deploying commercial software, here are three different open source support options to consider:

  • Commercial support: This option is offered by the big names in the open source software community such as Linux. For instance, open source projects that use Linux software are granted commercial support as it comes along with the software as a package.
  • Paid support: Open source software is touted for its cost efficiency due to its free and open standards; therefore it may seem contradictory to have to then pay a consultant for technical support or ongoing maintenance post-deployment. But remember that the consultancy is backed by a large following of knowledgeable and experienced open source community members, and in the end it still proves more economical than proprietary software consultancy.
  • Free support:  A core competency of the open source community is that it preserves its “free” and “open” standards—that is, anything from support to code collaboration are available at all times This option is most beneficial to code creators and software developers who want to communicate via online forums, as the community is constantly accessible through online platforms—think GitHub or Sourceforge.

The open source community’s technical support methods tip the scale when weighing its benefits compared to proprietary software. What are your top technical support priorities? Tell us in the comments section below.