Expensive == Trapped

by Eric M. Burke

Imagine spending $10,000 per developer on a tool that lets you draw diagrams and then generate EJB code. Now imagine four months down the road, someone writes a better tool and releases it for free as open source.


Do you think you could convince your management to dump the expensive tool and switch to the open source tool?


This is a hidden problem of expensive "enterprise class" software tools. Once you spend millions of dollars on a particular tool, you can be sure that management will pressure you to use what they just paid for. It won't matter if someone else invents a better tool - you must continue using your tools in order to justify the expense.


8 Comments

fshort
2004-03-21 08:29:22
Unless...
you can make the case that you'll be far more productive/design better code using the new tool. Then they'll need to decide if the cost of forcing you to use the old tool outweighs the increased gains of using the new. If you can make a compelling case, odds are management will choose the latter.
kylecordes
2004-03-21 15:26:48
Exactly, justifying moving away
Yes, the reply above reinforces when Eric said - once an expensive tool has been purchased, you then need to justify *not* using it; even if something else appears, that would work better and which you would choose in a heartbeat if making the choice on technical terms, you instead need to spend cycles justifying non-use of the other tool.
cascadefx
2004-03-21 20:04:50
Same situation with proprietary vs FOSS OSes
The same situation happens with choosing between the already purchased and locked-in operating system and a FOSS OS... where Linux may fit the bill, it may be rejected because the cost of the proprietary OS needs to be justified.
jwenting
2004-03-22 00:02:18
Unless...
well said, which analysis should of course take into account the hidden cost of using open source software which is the support.
With that $10.000+ per seat license usually comes an extensive support program providing 24/7 support per telephone and dispatch of qualified support staff within say 2 hours to your location (depending on how far in the booneys you are of course).
With open source stuff you will have to pay for that, which can get quite expensive.
llogiq
2004-03-22 00:16:04
Here goes another Open Source Myth.
With open source stuff you will have to pay for that, which can get quite expensive. --jwenting


Is it just me, or wasn't there an article
debunked, along with some others, that claim?


Sure you can pay some company big bucks for support, but that doesn't imply you need to.

jwenting
2004-03-22 04:23:34
Here goes another Open Source Myth.
you can of course also do it all yourself, or hope for the good will of someone doing it for free, but in general the second won't happen and the first you don't have the time for (and often not the expertise either, or you'd have created the entire product yourself).


The reason companies use 3rd party solutions is because they don't have the resources to build their own.
Either you buy support or you hire people to do it yourself, the second option is often more expensive especially if it's a short term requirement and even if it will turn out to be possibly less expensive many companies are not too keen on comitting themselves to increased staffing levels in non-missioncritical parts of their operations (as IT is typically considered, whether correctly or not I don't care here).


So you have the choice of buying support or doing without.
At some point you're gonna need that outside expertise and at that point the open source community will tell you where to stuff it or pay up (yes, I've had it happen!).

cascadefx
2004-03-22 07:33:53
Here goes another Open Source Myth.
That's why you have an open PO or some other sort of contract with a Linux consultant or Linux support firm (linuxcare, HP, etc). The cost isn't as much as the licensing for proprietary software, but the help is there is your own expertise gets outstripped.


Our consultant is very happy to work with us and is very easy to work with.

caseydk
2004-03-22 08:10:50
Unless...
With that $10.000+ per seat license usually comes an extensive support program providing 24/7 support per telephone and dispatch of qualified support staff within say 2 hours to your location (depending on how far in the booneys you are of course).


Ha. You've never actually spoken with Tech Support, have you?


I'm working with a nifty little pda device which (after quantity discount) costs $2500 each. After fighting through their tech support lines, I finally get to a lady who says:
"Well, Internet Explorer is not compatible with Pocket PC 2002" and "I'd be motivated to help you if you could tell me what version of motherboard you have in the device"


My response:
"Well, I thought that since we bought $50k+ worth of equipment from you with the intention of another $50k+ next month, you might be motivated to help me."


I then asked for her boss, relayed the conversation and requested (respectfully, nonetheless) a more diligent technician to assist me.


The moral of the story:
You may think paying big bucks for a tool (hardware or software) will get you somewhere, but unless it's in your contract, don't count on anything.