Freedom more important than price or cost…
September 27, 2007 Leave a comment
Freedom, Not Cost, Is Key
Overall, Forrester’s research clearly showed that enterprise open source adoption is steadily increasing, with many businesses showing no marked difference in their purchasing attitudes between open source and commercial platforms. But while the increasing popularity of open source software was encouraging from a systems integration standpoint, the more surprising result was why that popularity was increasing. We initially assumed the obvious answer was cost. But, in actuality, that’s not the case.
True, licenses for open source software can be had for a fraction of their commercial counterparts or nothing at all, but the total cost of ownership (TCO) for those licenses is far from free. Support costs and staff expertise are still pricier than commercial packages – mainly because they’re harder to find.
No, what’s really driving the adoption of open source software is freedom.
Almost half of all respondents interviewed in the Forrester study cited open standards, a lack of usage restrictions, and not being locked into a single software vendor as their primary reasons for looking at or adopting open source solutions. Lower initial purchase cost was cited as important by most interviewees, but just as important is the ability to customize these packages to specific business uses – especially in vertical markets. And although most noted that they won’t really change the code, having that option is very valuable to them. Freedom is key.
It’s not just about being gratis. Sure, that’s often what gets an Open Source foot in the door. In reality, though, that’s not enough. The Open Source paradigm is producing very high quality code and Open Source companies (and increasingly, traditionally closed source ones) are providing real value to clients with this code. Escaping the “isn’t all Open Source free as in beer” misnomer is a big step. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long.