Open source vs proprietary database software

by Oct 26, 2022Insights, Latest News, News

Enterprises looking for the ideal database solution have two choices: opt for the more affordable open source software or a well-known proprietary solution. This decision rests on the company’s long-term data needs and the budget available for implementing the database management system.

4C Group offers various database services, including support and administration. These services provide a great return on investment (ROI) as our administrators are highly experienced with both on-premise and cloud-based databases. We can also provide guidance and advice on database systems for large enterprises in Africa.

When choosing which option to use, consider the various types of open source software, which can vary in cost, as well as the total cost of ownership over time. This means that open source solutions may compound in cost over time, whereas proprietary solutions require a large initial investment.

Open source vs proprietary database software

An open source model is a free service that may include free software or subscription-based upgrades. Some open source services offer value-adds such as training courses and remote support. While open source software can be downloaded and installed for free, most providers will sell a client-specific solution to their database needs as a proof of concept. In other words, the value lies in the expertise offered by these providers or communities, rather than the actual software.

On the other hand, a proprietary database solution is geared toward high performance and massive storage capacities. The value lies in the software itself, but most proprietary providers will offer consultations, training and expert support. These solutions are aimed at large enterprises, so security and performance are core pillars of the solution. However, it may be difficult to move your data from one vendor to another if the need arises.

Why choose proprietary database management?

Proprietary database software uses source code that is unavailable to other users; it’s sold as off-the-shelf solutions to companies, which can be customised to varying degrees. This makes it a more expensive option than open source but holds numerous benefits. As it’s a product of a professional vendor, proprietary databases come with a full range of capabilities, such as automation and scalability.

These systems are highly reliable and secure, while still delivering high performance on a massive scale. Enterprises also benefit from full vendor support. This means that a company can rely on the vendor to set up, manage and maintain the database, rather than having to hire an in-house team to do it. This is why proprietary solutions are highly scalable.

Why opt for open source database software?

Open source software is released under a license that allows the user to develop the system, update the software and modify the code to suit their needs. It’s a highly flexible, customisable and adaptable solution that is often more affordable than a proprietary system. Although this may be specifically suitable for start-ups and companies with a limited budget, many multinational enterprises prefer to use open source database technology. 

In addition, businesses can sometimes test open source options before committing to a long-term rollout. This enables them to see if the software works and suits their requirements before deploying the software across the company or paying for additional support and maintenance.

Open source software also allows for greater innovation as a wider community of people can contribute to the code. This may deliver vast improvements and more freedom for businesses that want to avoid vendor lock-ins and rely solely on proprietary database software.

Potential drawback of both solutions

Proprietary and open source databases have their own drawbacks. Proprietary solutions are limited in their innovation and ability to customise the code. Instead, the customer must rely on the vendor to keep up with the latest developments in database management and software. The major drawback of this option, however, is the cost. Proprietary solutions are more expensive and there is a greater risk of vendor lock-ins.

Open source software, on the other hand, may be harder to integrate into the business environment. It may take more work and fiddling with the source code to get the database to function seamlessly with the business. This requires specialised knowledge and expertise within the company – an in-house IT team is needed to build, deploy and maintain the database. In addition, there is no guarantee on the tools or support provided as the software is community-based.

How modern enterprises view database management

The decision between open source or proprietary database software depends on the needs and budget of each company. However, many modern businesses are adopting a hybrid approach – it doesn’t have to be a one-sided decision. Proprietary software can be used for certain needs and open source software for other needs.

This delivers the advantages of both solutions while minimising the drawbacks. Many companies are now choosing proprietary providers for secure storage and processing of their data but using open source solutions for workflow management, orchestration and proof of concept.

This approach allows companies to figure out their needs through open source solutions before choosing a highly-scalable commercial database provider. A hybrid approach may be the best solution for your business. For more information about our database services, please contact us today.


At 4C Group of Companies, we strive to effect operational changes and cost savings for customers through our iNSight product and associated services. This product’s main function is to re-purpose and deliver business-critical information to a variety of systems and stakeholders. 

We specialise in information assurance, business assurance, FinTech solutions and a variety of business systems. For more insights into our products and services, check out our blog page or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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