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Open and Closed Systems

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This essay investigates the literature available on the difference between open and closed systems. It establishes which one of the two systems is employed by Google and why. In addition, it gives an example of the opposite system from that of the one you believe Google has adopted. Moreover, the paper discusses the sources of resistance to change that are thought to be most common.

In computing, open systems are those that allow end users to modify or alter the system. It may involve the modification of the contents or the programming of the system. Closed systems on the other hand are those that allow end users to use the content in their raw form with no or little modification. Various differences exist between the two systems. The first and most significant is that in open system the end user has access to both the source code and object code while in closed system the end user has access only to the object code. In terms of software used, open systems include open-source and free software while closed systems incorporate proprietary or commercial ones. Due to the free software initiative, open systems tend to be cost effective to use than closed systems. Open system also tend to have a larger pool of collaborators compared to closed systems. Open systems are generally considered security stable than closed systems as the number of testers is not restricted to only those holding the license (Stokes, 2007).

Google is an open system as most of its services such as Gmail, internet search and browsing are offered freely. It also offer part of its source code in the public domain. Google mainly adopt the open system as it strives to organize information and improve accessibility to it in a cost effective manner. Closed system like Microsoft tends to be restrictive and services offered are mainly paid for. Thus, changing from one system to the other is a process that encounters considerable resistance. For instance, adoption of open system has been lagging behind. This is mainly due to the initial widespread adoption of closed system particularly by companies affiliated to Microsoft. Those after feature rich and quality software tend to go the closed system way while those concerned more about security mainly opt for the rigorous tested open system software; they prefer the comfort of open system to the glamour of closed system (Stokes, 2007).

In order to maintain a competitive edge, most companies prefer to adopt the closed system where they can enjoy more control and privacy. The closed system is also preferred due to availability of a variety of software more than the open system. This provides the end user with a wide pool of software and services to choose from. Another obstacle to change is the human perception; most people believe that closed system offers quality and stability unrealized in open system. Naturally, people are averse to changes and would prefer to stick to what they already familiar with. This means that the first system to adopt is likely the one someone will stick to. When it comes to maximizing profit and minimizing operating cost, the system of choice is the open system. Changing to the more costly closed system would result to a more complex and costly planning. Reliability of the system is a major concern depending on the nature of operation; a company relying on feedback and input from the end user will find it salient to adopt an open system (Stokes, 2007).

The management of a company or institution usually find some challenges more difficult to deal with when it comes to changing from one system to the other. Restructuring of the business model to work with the new system is a time and resource consuming process. Another challenge is modifying the terms and conditions of the company or institution to match the legal requirement pertaining to the system being adopted. Relationship between the company and its environment have to be revised and the necessary steps taken. For example, changing from open system to closed system will require the employees to keep the affairs of the company within as opposed to what they were used to in the open system setting (Stokes, 2007).

Although closed system remains widely popular, there has been a rapid increase in adoption of open system. Notable examples include: Google, Wikipedia, GNU/Linux among others. Adoption of any of the two systems will depend on the business requirements and the ease of use. In recent time, both systems are being adopted widely as opposed to two decades ago.

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