Cost Cuts

By Debra Donston  |  Posted 2002-07-08 Print this article Print

Cost Cuts

Cost—or reduction thereof—is probably the No. 1 reason most companies decide to use open-source software. Even if there is some cost associated with procuring an open-source application, long-term costs will likely be low because there are no licensing fees involved. Total cost of ownership will vary depending on the application and the level of in-house expertise a company has, however.

Open-source applications—especially in the server space—can save companies money because they are highly configurable, allowing organizations to use and manage only what they need, and because code can be reused.

Open source can also reduce the costs associated with application bugs.

For enterprise IT, fewer bugs—or at least a community more proactive about searching out and patching bugs—is highly desirable. A May National Institute of Standards and Technology study said that, nationally, the annual cost of an inadequate infrastructure for software testing is estimated to be $59.5 billion. Any means to knock down that number should be at least considered by enterprise IT managers.

Published source code can both help and hurt the security record of a product, said Dyck, but it is characteristic of security-conscious groups and projects to always release source code. "Thats how encryption code came to be accepted," said Dyck, "and its even how Microsoft is seeking to ensure the security core of its proposed Palladium security project."

However, the frequent updating inherent in the open-source model, whether for bugs or for feature tweaks and adds, is off-putting to some enterprise customers, especially in this resource-strapped economy.

When factoring this into the open source vs. traditional software decision, Forresters Howe said IT managers should remember that frequent updates are already an issue: "I think its important to recognize that its a big hurdle now because applications are all being constantly updated, with service packs and the like," he said. "The fact that the open-source community has a process, an open process, for dealing with that addresses a need that a lot of organizations have."


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