A guide to TCO for Open Source Software – 7 reasons why open source is not free

Open Source Vs Commercial SoftwaresWhen software decisions are made, most often people select open source software (like Moodle) over commercial alternatives(licensed softwares, SaaS solutions)  with a premise that open source is free.

Yes open source is free, however we need to consider the following points to figure out the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of  Open Source Software,

  1. Infrastructure: Only the software is free, your IT folks will still have to use some hardware either the in-house infrastructure or use cloud to de ploy the application.
  2. Availability & Reliability: Consider factors such as up-time requirements, downtime costs, business continuity and disaster recovery.
  3. Maintenance & Support: Applying patches, software upgrades and other IT support.
  4. Security: Security for your infrastructure, application and data.
  5. Enhancements: Extending the software to have New features and functions.
  6. Performance & Scalability: Ensuring that your application doesn’t break when a large no. of users login at a time, is the application smart to  auto-scalable in such scenarios
  7. Man-hours of your IT team: Your IT team need skills to ensure all the above and will have to put in a lot of time to get skilled on the required technologies, related platform learn about necessary tools.

A thorough consideration of above points would help stake holders to figure out TCO for open source software vs licensed softwares, and SaaS solutions.  Most often Open Source Software and licensed software would come out to be CapEx extensive with recurring Operational expense, however with SaaS solutions one can do away with the capital expense and work on a pure OpEx model.