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Choosing Open Source or Commercial Software Based on Practical Usage

Dave Aiello wrote, "Dave Winer pointed out an interesting personal journal entry written by Mark Leighton Fisher on Use Perl. He says that he is agnostic in the Open Source versus commercial software debate as long as the reliability of the commercial software is high enough that he doesn't feel that he needs to have access to the source code to fix the problems that he encounters."

"This is a reasonable approach to a choice between software with no up front license cost and software that must be purchased. The big problem with this analysis is that it can only be made on software that is already in use."

"The examples he uses, Perl for an Open Source software product and eXceed for a commercial software product, are about as different in terms of intended uses as you can get. But, software developers and project managers ought to be able to relate to his examples, and come to their own conclusions about software that they are currently using."

"However, I'd argue that this approach doesn't 'scale well', to the CIO level, for many enterprise-level software choices. For instance, the only way you could choose between MySQL and Sybase using this method would be to allow both to be used in applications of similar value to a company. I can't think of any companies where such an approach would be permitted."

"On the other hand, if a company were willing to engage consultants who had experience with the implementation of both databases, the consultants could render an opinion based on the nature of the custom applications to be built in the future. That's unlikely to happen much in the current economy, although it could result in a good final product choice."

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