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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the Numbers!

David A. Wheeler, the well known expert on systems programming, security and author of several technical books publishes a blog as well. David has come with a massive paper on opensource/freesource software covering market share, reliability, performance, scalability, security, total cost of ownership and a well written background note on the origins, development and adaptation of the open source movement. This is a well researched and well wriiten paper that all open source enthusiasts and IT service professionals must read. The conclusions that David arrives at about using opensource is indeed insightful -it reads, " OSS/FS has significant market share in many markets, is often the most reliable software, and in many cases has the best performance. OSS/FS scales, both in problem size and project size. OSS/FS software often has far better security, perhaps due to the possibility of worldwide review. Total cost of ownership for OSS/FS is often far less than proprietary software, especially as the number of platforms increases. These statements are not merely opinions; these effects can be shown quantitatively, using a wide variety of measures. This doesn’t even consider other issues that are hard to measure, such as freedom from control by a single source, freedom from licensing management (with its accompanying risk of audit and litigation), Organizations can transition to OSS/FS in part or in stages, which for many is a far more practical transition approach.Realizing these potential OSS/FS benefits may require approaching problems in a different way. This might include using thin clients, deploying a solution by adding a feature to an OSS/FS product, and understanding the differences between the proprietary and OSS/FS models. Acquisition processes may need to change to include specifically identifying OSS/FS alternatives, since simply putting out a “request for proposal” may not yield all the viable candidates. OSS/FS products are not the best technical choice in all cases, of course; even organizations which strongly prefer OSS/FS generally have some sort of waiver process for proprietary programs. However, it’s clear that considering OSS/FS alternatives can be beneficial".
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