Cost, Speed, Agility: The Open Source Business Advantage

Will Schroeder | Kitware Blog | August 9, 2011

Do you enjoy paying recurring license fees? Like being locked into a vendor's solution? Have fun wasting time as your team works around bugs and limitations? Find yourself happy when two of the fifty features you suggested are adopted and scheduled for release in six months? Then I suggest that you continue with your proprietary software solution (and good luck with that). Otherwise, you might want to consider an open source approach.

With well over thirteen years of experience thriving with open source business practices, realizing sustained growth rates of over 30% the last few years at our company, and seeing formerly conservative organizations such as the DoD advocate for OS, it's clear that the value open source software and process offers business is no longer an idealistic concept, but rather a formidable, pragmatic business advantage, and soon to be best practice. While the benefits are legion, I think open source offers three major advantages that businesses can leverage to improve their workflow, increase productivity, and innovate more effectively: cost, speed and agility.

Cost: Many people believe that the primary cost saver is that OS software is "free". For example, one of my family members works for a large consulting firm developing custom database/enterprise solutions using proprietary software. These solutions can cost upwards of $20 million, with approximately $5 million of that being license fees. In an open source approach, the license costs would disappear, but the $15 million in customization and deployment costs would not. So OS is not free, but cheaper...