commercial vs opensource
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    The Differences Between Commercial and Open-Source Products

    If there was a battle between commercial software and open-source software, which side would you pick?

    Let’s start with a brief explanation of the two, starting from open-source software.

    Open-source freedom

    Seems like there is nothing to be added here – open-source software has its source code open to users. Simple as it seems. The code, responsible for the whole functioning of a software product, is available on the Internet and basically, anyone can download it and adjust it to their own needs. So, as the concept of open-source software is that the source code is open and accessible, the availability of the code allows programmers from around the world to constantly improve it, adapt it to certain needs. Linux is obviously the most famous open-source operating system.

    The idea of ​​open-source is based on the assumption that by sharing the code, the program is usually of a higher quality than proprietary software. It has already become some kind of philosophy of open-source users who add a pinch of it to the software they use, that being said, intellectual freedom, collaboration, inclusivity, and social approach are the foundations of the open-source ideology.

    Commercial stability

    As for the commercial software, there are probably no ifs and buts – it is a ready-to-go solution, available through paid license or submission.

    Many people claim open-source wins out over commercial software because the first one is significantly cheaper. But is it so? And most importantly – is price really of the highest priority when it comes to the security of your data, uninterrupted business flow, and your peace of mind? Let’s compare the two, having Open-E JovianDSS as an example of commercial software.

    Security and risk management – better safe than sorry

    Starting from reliability and ownership — software developed by a commercial software/ solution provider is highly reliable as it is produced based on some general lines of vendor policy, according to the development plan, with whole teams included in the production process. Thanks to this fact, the vendor developing the software takes full responsibility for all the failures and long-term support and maintenance until the software is phased out. In open-source software reliability may not be fully confirmed since not everyone’s requirements can be fulfilled, and there is no one to take over the responsibility for the failures.

    This leads us to the matter of insurance – insurance companies quite frequently require certified solutions. Open-E JovianDSS, being a commercial product, can boast of a range of certifications that guarantee your peace of mind. Unfortunately, open-source software-based servers very often can be excluded from insurance coverage.

    Insurance, in turn, should remind us about the most significant part of a business – security. Our environments might encounter not only a wide range of software bugs but also some serious exploits, ransomware and virus attacks, etc., which can lead to data corruption. 

    All the exploits in the open-source software need to be patched, which often requires advanced technical knowledge and vast experience. And later also extra costs.

    Support – looking for a shoulder to cry on

    Another crucial element of the comparison is the support. Unlike commercial products, open-source software does not have official product support provided by the software vendor. Open-E is aware of how important good support is. There’s a team of technical engineers ready to provide solutions since high-quality support is considered to be a part of the product. In case of an emergency, there’s no need to look for third-party assistance or hire an extra team that’s just able to fix the open code’s inconsistencies (this leads to constantly raising costs).

    Of course, there are many levels on which we work to provide security and support. By testing everything, from the new Linux kernel and ZFS versions to the new features before including them into software, the quality assurance of commercial software helps avoid the issues on production. This way, commercial updates are tested and ready to implement into the production server. Open-E QA and Development teams run the bug-fixing processes of updates, plus additional development that brings added value compared to the open-source software. 

    Last but not least are hardware components and the entire storage solution certifications. As with commercial products, customers can use the pieces of hardware or even entire solutions that have been tested and certified by the solution provider to guarantee peace of mind that everything will work properly. Open-source products might run into compatibility issues related to the lack of specialist drivers that can handle open-source programs on dozens of computers. Such drivers can be accessible from the supplier of the rest of the equipment which again raises the costs significantly.

    Maintenance – keeping up the great job

    Commercial products combine all the necessary features which work harmoniously with each other. It’s a ready-to-go solution while open-source requires complex research to find proper combinations and later extra development time and resources. Native functionalities in commercial software are developed by the solution provider, based on the experience, know-how, and real-life implementations, and can’t be found in open-source solutions (like Advanced Metro High Availability solution in Open-E JovianDSS). All the quality features are unified into one user-friendly interface within an integrated GUI to simplify the data storage management and daily maintenance. Often open-source programs are designed to meet the demands of a developer, not considering the overall usability, which might be a big problem for users who aren’t tech-savvy.

    Bear in mind that customization of the software is no longer an open-source asset. Now commercial products can be customized to the customer’s needs securely while open source solutions leave space for uncontrolled contribution (or at least not as controlled as in the case of commercial products) that might lead to inconsistencies, security gaps, etc. Talking about inconsistencies or security gaps, commercial providers offer small updates. At Open-E, we provide updates to the software when required by the customer, e.g. driver implementations. This means full-customization, with no need to hire experts to solve the problem, spending much time on research, and in the end – paying extra money for optimization.

    Open-E and partners offer a variety of customized services. Starting from the analysis of the current solution and considering different backup strategies, we ensure the best solution for our customers, including a fully guided integration and migration process. In the case of the open-source, you can be forced to run your research and later pray you have chosen the deployment process that will hopefully not disappoint you. Thus the deployment process is much safer, easier, and faster with commercial products just like Open-E JovianDSS.

    Added value – lesser cost

    Speaking of the cost – for instance, hiring Linux and ZFS experts equals high costs of the recruitment process, extra salaries, and extra training. These usually cannot be utilized 100% since the number of tasks related to monitoring, maintaining, and fixing the running servers is not stable over time. 

    There are many other hidden costs that you need to bear in mind before implementing an open-source product. You might encounter costs of installation and setup, customization and integrations costs, as well as costs connected with training your teams to be able to handle this kind of product. The cost of support is the icing on the cake of these extras.

    Conclusions

    It is crucial to investigate how all the above-mentioned aspects of software usage might influence your business. With open-source products, there’s more fun for developers and there’s some space for creativity, theoretically for free, while with commercial ones you pay and you get what you’ve paid for.

    At Open-E, we have already taken sides. Let us know in the comments whether you are in team commercial or team open-source.

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    2 Comments

    • Werner

      March 03, 03 2022 01:47:02

      I’m in both teams…

      There’s a lot of open source projects that are really innovative. Lot’s of stuff we use right now as ‘enterprise products’ contain large amounts of open source parts. The example, JovianDSS, is also built around a lot of open source projects.

      Where the commercial part becomes usefull is in creating off the shelf solutions that require less knowlegde, maintenance etc of the user. As you mention, certified hardware, configurations, good support, patches are some examples of how commercial can be value for money.

      So for me… both teams

      Have a very nice day !

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      • Open-E

        March 04, 03 2022 10:25:50

        Dear Werner,

        Thank you very much for sharing your opinion! Enterprise products and open-source indeed become more and more interconnected with each other.

        Have a nice day!

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