Open-source software may be free, but it can come with significant maintenance and security risks that businesses should consider. While highly effective in some situations, it may not be the best option for specialized software or high levels of support.

a year ago

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So, you've heard of open-source software, right? It's that free software that's developed by a bunch of tech enthusiasts in their free time. But, have you ever stopped to think about why it's free? Well, let me tell you friends and already offended internet folks, open-source software is free in the same way that a puppy is free. You can take it home for no cost, but that doesn't mean it won't cost you in the long run. You'll most certainly pay for this in time, money, resources, frustration, lack of support, and in may other unforeseen ways.

When you adopt a puppy, you quickly realize that it requires a lot of time, attention, and resources to properly take care of it. You have to feed it, train it, take it to the vet, and give it a safe and comfortable environment. Similarly, when you adopt open-source software, you're essentially adopting a community of volunteers who develop and maintain the software. These volunteers are passionate about technology, but they're not necessarily focused on meeting the needs of businesses. This means that if you want to use open-source software in a business setting, you may need to invest significant time and resources into maintaining and supporting it yourself.

Now, don't get me wrong, open-source software can be highly effective in certain situations. But, it may not be the best option for businesses that require specialized software or high levels of support and maintenance. Commercial software vendors often provide dedicated support teams, regular updates and patches, and a high level of customization and integration with other software. This can be particularly important for businesses that need software that's tailored to their specific needs.

Another thing to consider is security. While open-source software is often highly secure and reliable, it can also be vulnerable to security risks if it's not properly maintained and updated. In some cases, commercial software may be more secure and reliable than open-source software because it's developed and maintained by a dedicated team of security experts.

In addition to the potential maintenance and security risks of open-source software, there's also a risk that the project may try to monetize its users and upsell them on poorly supported software. This can be particularly challenging for businesses that rely heavily on the software, as they may become locked into an inferior solution. While some open-source projects are transparent about their monetization strategies and provide clear guidelines on what's free and what's not, others may use bait-and-switch tactics to lure users in and then try to extract money from them later on. This can be frustrating for users who are trying to balance their needs for a reliable and effective software solution with their budget constraints. As such, it's important to do your due diligence and research any open-source software project thoroughly before committing to it.

I've watched countless enterprises spin their wheels, claim they're evaluating for "several months" having made little-to-no progress, or having had to customize this so much this now becomes a non-revenue generating product their building, maintaining, and supporting all in the name of "because it's open source and doesn't cost us anything". Now, I don't know who their CxOs are and why they don't look at them square in the face and say: "Nope" but I suspect it's because it gets hidden down among the lower layers, and the real true cost of this never gets spoken about to the people who really need to understand it.

So, the bottom line is that open-source software is free like a puppy. You can take it home for free, but it's going to require a lot of time and resources to properly take care of it. Before adopting open-source software for your business, it's important to carefully consider your options and evaluate the costs and benefits of each option.

Mike Moore

Published a year ago