An open source consultant is an independent contractor hired by an organization to set up, modify, or provide advice regarding open source software. The responsibilities of an open source consultant include matching client needs to available open source programs, ensuring adequate security in an open source environment, and enabling the successful modification of existing open source programs to tailor applications to specific client needs. On a basic level, an open source consultant can help an organization to prosper if they do not have an adequate understanding of open source options and technology in their existing information technology talent pool.
Open source software is software which allows users to view or, in many cases, modify the source code. This provides open source software with a complete level of transparency, allowing end users to see exactly how the program functions. Additionally, it allows end users to make alterations to the original source code, more closely adapting the program to the specific needs of their organization.
The advantage to open source software is an almost infinite level of customization. By permitting users to change elements about the program, the entire user base essentially becomes part of the coding team, enabling them to add applications and features to an already finished program. In addition to this, many types of open source software — such as the Linux® operating system — are available online for no cost at all, saving companies a substantial amount of money.
Open source software is not without downsides, and that is where an open source consultant comes into the picture. The customization of open source software presents a confusing quagmire for organizations with less tech-savvy workers. An open source consultant can come in, make the necessary installations or changes to the open source software, and exit the picture, all for much less cost than it would take to furnish the organization with comparable closed-source software.
Another downside to open source software is security. Since everyone can view the code, exploitation of the system becomes apparent more readily. A good open source consultant can help to minimize or eliminate the impact of this by configuring the code to either work around or negate the impact of the problem. Thus, the organization's data remains safe from hackers and other external threats.