by Manon Midy

IBM to acquire Red Hat for $34 billion.

This deal is the biggest Linux and open-source acquisition ever.

Recent news as the acquisition of RedHat by IBM shows once more time that “Open source is the default choice for modern IT solutions [ …].” as says Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat’s CEO.

But, I’ve realized through recent discussions with our partners and my sales colleagues, that even in 2018, some people still have biases on open source or mistakenly believe that it is just about cost savings. I’ve decided to write down the most common unconscious « clichés » that are still alive. I give up-to-date information and practical advices for IT and CTO to up-to-date their opinion. Open minded? Ready to change?

After reading this article, if your curiosity is raised, please engage the conversation with me.

Bias n°1: Open Source is a geek story

Do you believe open source software is made by unsociable bearded hackers? No (or not only 🙂 Open source is not any more about hacking and philosophical beliefs. It’s about transparency, longevity, access to source code, community building.

Open Source is shipped by companies and individual software engineers. When I take a look at my colleagues developers, I see high-skilled women and men, hired to write quality code, committed to build an awesome product, doing their best to answer final users’ needs, and focused on delivering value to our customers.

Bias n°2: Open Source is less secure than proprietary

A software is not more or less secure by its licence. The key difference is that Open Source is available for inspection. With open source code, everyone gets full visibility into the code base, as well as all discussions about how the developers build features and solve anomalies. With proprietary code, no analysis is possible, you need to blindly trust someone. With open source, you can see exactly what you’re getting.
For example, as Tuleap tool is open source, BlackDuck software has the ability to scan Tuleap code.

Questions to ask yourself in an enterprise context

  • Do you get the same transparency on your current tools?
  • How do you check code source security on proprietary tools?
  • How are resolved issues you raised with your current tools?

Bias n°3: Companies do not rely on Open Source

« 78% of companies run on open source,

and I think it’s likely the other 22% just don’t realize they are. »

Joe McCann, CEO of Node.js company, Feb. 2018

You’re using Open Source everyday

Every day, every hour, open source is here, in cutting-edge things you are using: your car, your phone, your fridge, the electronic game your child is playing with.

Open Source software is now the norm

Take a look at the data analysis made by Felipe Hoffa of Google in October 2017. It highlights top contributor companies to open source.

Open Source software development is one of the primary driving forces of technological innovation. Most of the software giants are the biggest and most active contributors on a daily basis. Google, Redhat, Amazon, Uber and even our good friends at Microsoft, they are using and even contributing a lot to open source software.

Open Source is critical to the success of engineering teams

A new survey conducted in August 2018, by The Linux Foundation and The New Stack reveals that Open Source programs are critical to the success of engineering and product teams. More than 50% of the companies say their organization has an Open Source program or has plans to establish one within the next year.

What about you?

Bias n°4: Why pay for Open Source software when I can download it for free?

Here is the big question.
It seems ok to you to pay $40/user/year for a proprietary tool but not for an open source one? With OS, you just grab the code and go? Why?

There are huge human work and copyrights behind on both. Both need fundings to grow, to be maintained, to give you with more features, to provide you premium support and services.

Open Source is more than cost savings

That’s right, most of the time, Open Source makes faster and higher applications’ ROI (See “6 Reasons Why Open Source Software Lowers Development Costs”).

But it is not the sole asset to focus on. The difference between “paid proprietary” and “paid open source” is that you have the power to control what you want to do. You pay to get free, not for being locked.

Among others, Open Source gets the following assets:

  • Freedom from vendor lock-in. Proprietary software increases the risk of becoming locked-in by the vendor or technology. If this happens, organisations might be forced to suffer vendors’ price increases. Open Source offers the freedom to chose what you want to do.
  • Sustainable investment: Open Source ensures long-term viability and longevity. Whatever goes on, you get the software on hand. Users can continue working.
  • At the forefront of innovation. Have you ever realize that new DevOps or software development tools come from Open Source communities? Open Source communities introduce new concepts, innovative way of working, advancing technologies, faster, better.

Paying for Open Source is YOUR interest

Nothing is wrong with using a “free” community open source software. This is even the first aim, the freedom to use. But you can’t assume that a community open source software will have the same security, stability and performance characteristics as an enterprise supported open source product. It is just not possible as it doesn’t enable the product itself to be alive. If you like a software and want it to continue to serve your longterm needs, the only way to ensure that is to become a paid subscriber.

Enterprise Open Source Software makes you save money

If your organisation is using a free open source software and is not paying for a commercial subscription, chances are your maintenance and support costs are higher than if you purchased an enterprise edition. Not to mention increased risk of data damage or loss and wasted time! If you have a long time horizon and run mission-critical systems, I encourage you to read the following.

  • Free community software are animated by volunteers. There is no Service Level Agreements regarding support. No commitments that your questions will be answered. If you expect correct, prompt and guaranteed response time, you should find another way.
  • Free community software are usually under-development version, necessarily less stable. No software, proprietary or open source, is completely bug free. How to keep pace with the master software and fix your instance? If your organization has the time, skills and money to do such a work with your bare hands, you have the right to do it. But I would not recommend it. Why? Because patching by yourself equals getting rid of the origin software. You will get a lonely separated software. No ways to follow the mainstream software, to leverage new features.
    The reality of enterprises, is that they want the most cost effective solution. They don’t want to invest in learning the product codebase, fixing defects and validating security, stability and performances. They rather spend their time and staff delivering value to their customers in the form of innovative products.

About to choose a new tool? My advice for IT and CTO

If you are considering to choose a new tool, please be careful to:

  1. Licence. Open Core and Open Source are different. Select true open source solutions, rather than those from providers that repackage open source software to include proprietary layers. Read carefully the software licence, not only the ability to read the source code or access API.
  2. Longevity : Already think about tomorrow. What happen if your organisation applications’ budget changes? Can you continue using the software? Access he source code?
  3. Evolution. Quick customization to do? Need enhancements? How can you make evolve the software?
  4. Community or Enterprise editions. Honestly assess Total Cost of Ownership: CAPEX + OPEX. In your company, are there really free-time people with appropriate skills to maintain your instance, to support users? What are your business requirements? What is the best business partner that will provide high ROI, low risk?

    Try 100% Open Source Tuleap
    Webinar: Save money with Enterprise OSS

Manon Midy


Manon Midy

Manon has been working in the software engineering world from 2008. She enjoys the challenge to create economic value for a company where innovation and open source are the DNA. She is convinced it’s possible to provide professional services embracing FLOSS values (open-mind, transparency, co-elaboration) with business objectives. She believes the real strength of Enalean comes from the valuable men and women in their teams, as well as the powerful Tuleap techno. 

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