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FOSS in the Enterprise: To Pay or Not to Pay?

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OSS

One of the big attractions behind the growing popularity of open source software is the ability to get it and use it for free. In a world of ever-rising costs in pretty much every other aspect of business and life, "free" is an offer that's increasingly difficult to refuse.

Support is one area, however, where "free" may not be all it seems -- particularly for enterprises.

Users of free software typically rely on the generally sizable community of users and developers for help if questions arise. That support can be excellent, and many users swear by it. At the enterprise level, however, it's worth considering more closely -- particularly when many users are involved and the software is mission-critical.

In addition to offering their software for free, most of the big enterprise Linux operating systems and numerous popular applications give users a choice of paying for support from the developers themselves. In some cases, a software developer may even sell a more feature-rich commercial version.

So when does it make sense to spend the extra money? There's no one formula to provide an answer to that common question, but numerous key factors can help you decide.

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Today in Techrights

Leftovers: OSS

  • Open Technology Week looks at potential of open-source tech
    Experts from industry and academia gathered in Cambridge at the weekend to discuss just that as part of the city's first Open Technology Week. Open technology refers to items for which the source code or designs are available free of charge for users to use and modify.
  • Intel to shift Hillsboro engineers to Texas for open source project
    Intel Corp. engineers from Portland will play a role in the development in a new tech development center that's opening in San Antonio. As the San Antonio Business Journal reports, Intel announced a significant investment with Rackspace in a new OpenStack Innovation Center that will be based at Rackspace's headquarters in San Antonio.
  • 10 tips for better documentation
    Last July, after a full week at OKFestival, I managed to find enough energy to attend the Write the Docs EU Berlin Unconference. I only managed to attend one day of the event, but it was worth it because Paul Adams, a free software advocate and Director of Engineering at KDAB, led a discussion in which we came up with rules for helping documentation teams be more productive:
  • This is why your open source project is failing
    At OSCON this year, Red Hat's Tom Callaway gave a talk entitled "This is Why You Fail: The Avoidable Mistakes Open Source Projects STILL Make." In 2009, Callaway was starting to work on the Chromium project—and to say it wasn't a pleasant experience was the biggest understatement Callaway made in his talk.
  • NPR releases open source social media tools for newsrooms
    The helpful folks at NPR have released a collection of fully customisable, open source tools to help journalists create visually engaging images for social media. The tools – called Quotable, Factlist and Waterbug – were announced last night by Brian Boyer, editor of the NPR visuals team, as an easy way "for you to create those fashionable social graphics for your news organisation".
  • Growing pains: Open source ubiquity raises ownership, governance issues
    Overlapping scope and membership can confuse users, Miniman warns. Unlike the rules produced by standards committees, foundations don’t guarantee interoperability between implementations. IT organizations need to develop an understanding of how open communities operate, how different licensing models work and how they can become actively involved in shaping open source software.