Key Advantage of Open Source is Not Cost Savings

Computer Economics recently conducted a survey of visitors to its website regarding the perceived advantages in the use of open source software. Although not a scientific sample, the results are nevertheless startling.

a choice of five advantages for open source

The survey indicates that IT decision makers value “reduced dependence on software vendors” as the most important advantage of open source. This indicates that software buyers must feel some level of dependence on proprietary software vendors, from which they desire freedom. Such dependence includes reliance on the vendor for maintenance and support and the necessity for the buyer to accept version upgrades that the buyer may not need or want.

When selling Open Source, I like to tout the advantage of an exit strategy. Unlike vendor tie-in, they can take their business and data elsewhere if they aren’t happy or if I decide I’m too lazy to keep up with their demands.

Microsoft may be find for small systems and hobby use, but when you scale up proprietary software becomes a worse and worse choice. I had an interesting experience in a startup company when Yahoo was considering to buy our company. They sent a bunch of people over to review our technology; and when we mentioned our databases ran Oracle, one of the guys looked to our CFO and told him “you shouldn’t have let them do that”. “Why not”, our CFO asked – since he was one of the guys orginally insisting that to be taken seriously we’d neet to have top-tier components everywhere. The Yahoo guy’s response: “Well, Oracle may scale well technologically, but it doesn’t scale financially”.

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