This update on a popular list reveals a changing relationship between proprietary and open source software, due to cloud computing’s influence.

For several years now, Datamation has compiled an annual list of open source software projects that can replace very expensive software. In years past, the prices for the proprietary software generally climbed from year to year, but this year, we noticed a major change.

Much of the software that has a reputation for being very expensive has switched to a software as a service (SaaS) pricing model, which looks less expensive because it’s based on a monthly subscription rather than a flat fee. (Whether it’s actually less expensive depends on a number of factors.) In addition, some proprietary software actually decreased in price in this year, and at least one “expensive” software package we’ve featured in the past is now available for free.

These lower prices are good news for application users. However, many still find open source software to be a better deal overall when they compare it to proprietary software. In some cases, the lack of licensing costs gives open source software a lower total cost of ownership. In others, the open source alternatives offer features that provide a better match for the user’s needs, and sometimes users want the flexibility to be able to customize the source code themselves.

If you’re considering purchasing software with a particularly high price tag, you may want to compare it to one of the open source alternatives on our list before purchasing. Note that not every open source replacement has exactly the same features as the comparable proprietary software listed, but they are designed to accomplish the same tasks.


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