Third Party software boom – Does it spell better productivity?

By | September 25, 2011

As technology spins-off one revolution after the other, the software industry is witnessing an uptrend. Extensible, evolutionary software platforms are the thriving media in today’s IT-driven scenario. These demands from software-utilities/ application see the rising need for third party software/applications.

Third party software are components or applications, which are not integrated with the mainstream software application but can be inserted as plug-ins or function as standalone applications.

The reason behind these components not being streamlined with the main software architecture could be many:- additional features/functionality-not defined as an integral part of the project proposal, high-cost factor, the absence of demand, non-viable characteristics such as software-heaviness, difficulty in deployment and many others of the like.  In such cases, third party software plays a vital role to “plug in” the gap.

Take for instance, Microsoft windows operating system. The platform developed by Microsoft includes a zillion applications and software, not necessarily authored by Microsoft, for example, browsers such as firefox, safari, and email clients such as thunderbird, the Bat, Pegasus are third party applications. Newsgroups, IRC(Internet relay chats), anti-virus applications fall into the category of standalone third party software. Third-party plug-ins or add-ons include tweaks/modified versions to enhance the functionality of the existing software. To substantiate, multimedia plug-ins for web browsers(flash to watch movies/video), or encryption add-ons for email software, or reader-plug-ins, for reader software(acrobat ® adobe ® plugin to read .pdf files ) are examples of add-ons for a first-party software provider.

Some of the advantages of using third party software include a higher-degree of customization, which will help to meet the functionality of the software at its best. Customization is a user-attractive feature and can work to give the user a better experience. With the core software product, customizing a particular component may not be a feasible option, as the entire process should work within the framework of the software architecture. But with plug-ins, the job is accomplished faster, easier and cheaper.  Additionally, not being integrated with the first party application, these software are less prone to virus attacks, which mainly target the prime applications.

The boom in third party software is not only because of the outsourcing by first party software providers   but also due to the upsurge in open-source applications and cloud computing. Most of the open-source resources are a pool of third party components, making it for ready and easy availability for the user. Moreover, as cloud computing steals the show with its Internet-based deployment methodologies, third-party software are going to play a vital role in taking the information age through the next-phase of revolution.

But before outsourcing to a third party vendor, the requirement, the credentials and skill-set of the team/company handling the project should be thoroughly assessed and validated. A robust third party software can pool with the parent application to deliver fulsome functionality. On the contrary, a plug-in full of loop-holes, will only demolish the reputation of the host-app featuring it!

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