The primary benefit of open source software is that it gives you control over the technology that you are investing in. The best analogy that illustrates this benefit is with the way that you buy cars. So let me ask you this: Would you ever buy a car with the hood welded shut? NO! Of course not, that would be CRAZY!
But wait a minute… What do you know about modern internal-combustion engines?
There is a good chance that you, along with 99% of the general population, don’t know much about them at all. Yet you demand the ability to open the hood of your car because it gives you, the consumer, control over the product that you bought and takes it away from the vendor.
See, you can take the car back to the dealer and if they do a good job, don’t overcharge you and add the features you need, you may keep taking it back to that dealer.
But if they overcharge you, won’t fix the problem you are having, or refuse to install that musical horn you always wanted — well, there are 10,000 other car-repair companies that would be happy to have your business.
In the proprietary software industry, you, the customer, have no control over the technology you are building your business around. If the vendor overcharges you, refuses to fix a bug that causes your system to crash, or chooses not to introduce the feature that you need, you have no choice.
This lack of control results in a high cost, low reliability and lots of frustration.
Of course, open source software is unique in this regard, because it gives you the ultimate level of control over your IT environment.