Open source software has certainly had an impact on the software industry. The assumption that it has benefited everyone is perhaps a little more difficult to quantify. I have seen arguments for reduced cost, improved security and increased innovation, but counter-arguments for all these too. But it has certainly given customers more choice and forced suppliers of proprietary software to be more flexible in their licensing terms. There are a two common misconceptions about open source software which need explaining. Firstly it is not necessarily free, you may be able to download and install it for nothing but normally you will have to pay for support. Secondly it is not unlicensed, again the license may cost nothing but you are still bound by terms of use, which may include a requirement for you to 'open source' your modifications.

The decision on whether open source is right for you is not clear cut and depends on your circumstances. What makes sense for one organisation may not be true for another. You need to consider the total cost of ownership (or TCO) over the lifetime you will use the software. In addition to the license fee estimate the costs for support and maintenance, customisation, integration, training and upgrades. These in turn will depend on what IT staff you have (if any), the availability of third party support and the market rates for their skills. In my opinion open source has benefited the software industry but it is not a guaranteed method of cutting IT costs.