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August 28, 2009

Open Source vs Saas. Define the difference

Filed under: Open Source — Olga Belokurskaya @ 6:17 am

Open source and SaaS solutions both can reduce initial costs and use subscription-based pricing model, and traditionally are considered to be alternatives to costly proprietary applications. Taking into account the fact that SaaS applications are very often open source at heart, then, what is the difference between them? An article at searchdatamanagement.com defines it.

According to Gartner and Forrester experts, the difference is seen when we speak about hidden costs, customization, and resources.

What’s hidden behind?

  • The bitter truth is that initial costs are rather small compared to all the maintenance, correcting failures, addressing the occurring issues, and other support work. As Forrester research showed, the cost of open source solutions support may be high, because it is quite resource-intensive.
  • The challenge with SaaS is, that though the support costs are minimal, in case of any downturn of failure, or any other trouble with the environment, company’s resources can’t fix it and have to wait until somebody from SaaS provider’ comes and helps. This is because a company has no full control of its SaaS application.

Demand for resources

  • An expert from Gartner advices to address to SaaS in the situation when IT resources are pretty tight. SaaS providers offer, normally, packaged support so company’s IT department is free from the burden of SaaS applications upgrades.
  • Open source solution demand for some additional work to be done to receive support from the open source communities. But this support includes many options:  updates, bug fixes, upgrades and enhancements

What about customization?

  • Well, speaking about customization, SaaS applications are not the better choice. Deep customization is not possible for SaaS solutions. So, if an organization looks for a solution to suite its special needs, SaaS is not likely to help.
  • The ability to fully customize makes open source applications appealing. Open source permits totally customize applications to fit any organization’s needs. Moreover, many open source providers offer on-demand and on-premise options. This gives a company more flexibility, for they may begin with using on-demand option, and as the use of the solution becomes more mature, it may be brought in-house. And there is no such flexibility for SaaS.

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