By Mr. LIMS | October 17, 2021
How viable is open source software in the laboratory setting?
One of the reasons that most businesses avoid using open source software to handle their line of business functions is that the software typically does not come with support. Basically, you get what you paid for. You paid nothing; you get nothing. Laboratories are not in business for the fun of it. It is not a hobby, it is a serious matter and the software that runs the laboratory is equally serious. Given these realities, most labs simply avoid open source software and select a product and company based on features, service and best value fit for their needs.
This does not exclude open source software, but if that software is to compete, it had better be of high quality and well supported by the company that is delivering that software to the laboratory. The lab is not just buying some software, but they are buying software that is supposed to provide a real solution. When there is a problem (which we all know that software is not perfect, there is always something coming up), it had better be supported with a Service Level Agreement for that support.
Open source is not a problem for labs, it is just that open source must live to the same service and performance level expectations of the commercial products, or it will never be considered. A free price for software is no win for the lab if it does not perform at every level the lab needs. This goes for every type of business. I have tried adding various open source software to my company – such as CRM and other things – and have dumped it in favor of some very expensive commercial alternatives all because of support services we needed. Sometimes FREE stuff is the most expensive.
On the other hand, I have started replacing all of our windows servers with Linux and all of our SQL Server with Postgres, and we will never look back. We paid a fortune for the MS software stack, and it has been nothing but an under performer for high throughput, mission critical operations, while the free, open source alternatives have simply outperformed at every level. You just cannot make blanket statements that open source is better or worse than commercial offerings. It is all about features, service and performance.
My Favorite Open Source Tool
There is one open source tool I wanted to let all of you know about that I have absolutely fallen in love with. I have tried every type of tool for instrument and systems integration such as Mirth, Mulesoft, Data Innovations, Labtronics and a ton of custom stuff. Absolutely none of them compare at any level to a free, open source product called Nodered. We at LabLynx use it for all of our integrations and automation of laboratories. We have invested heavily into the product and have built a huge and growing library of packaged integrations for ERP’s, EHR’s, lab instrumentation, industrial controls, lab robotics, government reporting systems such as METRC in cannabis, public health reporting for covid cases and the list goes on and on and on. We have built an IoT device for local device integrations such as lab instrumentation and robotics such as Hamilton, Hudson and Teacan. We use it for in lab panel monitor kiosks for real time control and monitoring and alerting.
The uses for Nodered along with IoT for the lab are limitless. Nodered is a free, opensource software that LabLynx has added value to and packaged our add-on software for Nodered as our Labvia integration suite. This is a clear example of how free, open source software is made sustainable and of great value to the laboratory market for integration, automation, monitoring and alerting. These are bread and butter functions for every lab and we at LabLynx are so pleased with the results of this tool that we want everyone in the lab market from labs to instrument vendors to adopt nodered as part of their value chain.
If you want to learn more about how Nodered and Labvia can work with your instrumentation and other lab equipment, I would like to invite you to contact our team by clicking here. Remember Nodered is free and open source, but it is also heavily supported and extended with developed integrations by LabLynx. You can do it yourself as well or have any other company that supports and services Nodered help you. It is not proprietary and there is no vendor lock-in. It truly is the best of all worlds when it comes to lab integration and automation. There is no reason why all labs should not use nodered to handle all of their integration and automation functions. I truly believe that nodered is a game changing tool for the lab.
Nodered is a very seasoned tool that has been used for years in industrial automation. It is time to apply it to lab automation.