Open source technology isn’t a new concept in the IT industry—but a surprising number of businesses have yet to adopt their own internal technology development strategy. Here at MMI, we develop most of our technology (including ONEview, our total asset management solution) based on an open source platform, and we’ve seen a tremendous cost savings and strategic advantage as a result.
The difference between developing software on an open source platform and licensing from a vendor is thousands and thousands of dollars. Web-based platforms have definitely propelled acquiring software through vendors into a new phase; beyond the on-site technical resources you save, web-based software is quickly and easily updated by vendors, requiring little to no maintenance on your side of the equation. Unfortunately, there are detractors to consider if you’re buying a ready-made product. Ask yourself some of the following questions before you move forward with a vendor.
Is the software’s purchase fee cost-prohibitive? How much do you pay for maintenance? Customization? Is the product scalable enough to meet your business goals? How responsive is tech support? How strong is the vendor’s business? What are the chances that they go under, leaving you to fend for yourself with the most recent (and likely outdated) version of the software? How easy is it to learn? Do they offer to come out and give a tutorial presentation? How many internal IT staffers will it take to manage the system?
These questions are crucial to choosing a vendor—but many of them answer themselves if you choose to develop on an open source platform.
Open source offers five key benefits:
- Cost Savings – One of the driving factors in the development of open source standards is the fact that you don’t have to pay up-front or licensing fees or sign contracts to maintain your internal and external software platforms.
- Development Speed – A skilled open source professional with working knowledge of your company’s unique needs can quickly build customized software on an open source platform. This means quick-to-market deployment of your software platform.
- Higher ROI – With lower up-front cost in terms of money and time resource consumption, an immediate, higher return-on-investment beats buying from a vendor.
- Customizability – The benefits of having a customized platform that you can edit at any time, without involving a vendor, cannot be understated. For one, most vendors develop a uniform product, and while customizability might be possible, there are always limits. On the other hand, open source has no limits beyond those of the developer.
- Scalability – Multiply your initial savings, and you’ll get your potential savings if you need to perform major expansions on your software platforms. If you have to add multiple servers into the mix, open source helps you bypass licensing fees.
Reduced resource consumption comes in another form. With an open source deck, you can do more with fewer developers. The framework is in place to do some of the heavy lifting, and open source developers tend to fall into a “jack-of-all-trades” category, rather than specializing their skills.
All of these are the reasons MMI uses open source in the development of our portal. The savings we effect are passed on to the users of our contract management system, ONEview. With the economy struggling to rise out of the gutter and the rapid evolution of technology available to companies these days, now is the time to capitalize on the savings that open source development can offer you.