Why Open Source – An Update

As I've mentioned before, I love Open Source software. It's not because I disagree with the idea of Intellectual Property or like being cheap or anything like that. I simply believe that I should not be stuck with a sub-standard product or a product that doesn't suit my needs simply because I can't get at the code. This was recently summed up in a survey from Computer Economics that has major portions of the community in a tizzy. They figured out exactly what I have been saying: people value freedom more than anything else.

They don't want to be locked into a long term contract for regular upgrades every X years along with having dozens of consultants on site to run the system. I have been on customer sites where the single job of an entire team was to make sure that the (choose one: CRM, ERP, database, etc) system was running smoothly. And in order to “ensure stability” they were required to sign a multi-year contract paying 20% of the initial cost in maintenance fees every year. While this is great for vendors, it's terrible for the customer. That's what amazes me too… why would a vendor do something to purposely scre… er, punish a customer? Without customers, you don't have a business.

Maybe Open Source and the lower barriers to entry will force vendors to think more about their customers bottom line. Maybe it will make them aware that the old model of huge purchase costs and then annual maintenance fees aren't the best way to go. Maybe vendors will have to compete on something other than price. Maybe part of their “service contracts” will actually include some customer service.

Then again, maybe not.

If you use Basecamp, Microsoft Project, or Primavera, you get an excellent set of Project Management tools. Of course, you are at the complete mercy of the vendor. If you don't like their new Terms of Service (TOS) or End User License Agreement (EULA)… tough. You're stuck with them. CaseySoftware's dotProject offering is based on the premise of preventing lock-in at all costs. You may see this as a flaw in the business model because the cost of the alternatives – downloading, installing, and running dotProject yourself – are negligible. Why wouldn't someone do this themselves?

Good point.

We're not competing on price. We're competing on service. On staff, we have cyberhorse – a completely irreplaceable dotProject contributor – and myself – another dotProject contributor. If you want to manage your own dotProject installation, that is perfectly acceptable. In fact, if you are a customer of CaseySoftware and decide to do just that, we'll export the database along with all of your files and send them to you. Of course, if you don't want to worry about it and know that it “just works”, then you'll contact us.

Simple choice. No vendor lock-in.