CyberTech Rambler

May 19, 2006

Who is more reliable or dependable? Microsoft or Open Source

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:14 pm

In a new BBC documentary, "The Code Breaker", Microsoft commented that open source is not reliable or dependable. Humm…. lets put both in a beauty contests and see who wins.

Well, as people say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this is certainly the poster child. When it comes to technical merits, open source is more reliable and dependable today. Microsoft is playing the catch up game and I do not like playing the prediction game. However, when it comes to "Business Case", that statement might be correct.

When we talk about business, we are playing the "blame game". If insurance company refuse the pay out when an IT failure cost your company a million dollar, the blame will fall on the IT head. This is something only sucidal IT head will play. So, proprietary software is definitely more dependable here, if just to save one's skin. 

OK, I know, this is not what Microsoft meant when they say "dependable".

So, go back to "Business Case". While open source has so far consistently wins on the technical definition of reliability and dependeablity, Business case puts humans into the equation. More precisely, the IT skill of the coperation or the that of the outside help they have access to. There is no point for any company to use open source software if it means longer down time than proprietary software because they do not have the skill beyond shutdown and restart to deal with IT problems. In this case, of course, properitary software is definitely more reliable or dependable.

The question on how many companies finds that open source is not reliable or dependable from the business point of view is a controversial one. As I had said before, it depends on the skill the company can call on to deal with problems. We are in the middle of this process where we see medium to large companies finding that the technical reliability and dependency makes open source superior to proprietary software. Smaller companies tend to find the lack of skills made open source a bad solution. However, Innovation in small company open source is still in its infancy. It is still looking for the "break through" innovation to bring open source to the majority of small businesses.

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