Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Open Source and SaaS

Quite a number of government organizations focus on software development with open source. Main advantages, they say, is no license fees and no vendor lock-in. What they forget, is they will still have a vendor lock-in, namely with the software developer that has adjusted the open source software to fit the needs.

Internationally, there is a strategy of Software as a Service. Main advantages is, that a customer pays per use and no investments in developments have to be made. The software is ready for use. Quite a number of examples are already available, e.g. there is a growing number of service suppliers of Content Management Systems with this business model. Examples are Webnode, Moonfruits, Plone, Virtuoso, but also Microsoft supports this model.

Question will be: do I invest in open source or do I apply SaaS? Other questions will come next, e.g. in the context of CMS as SaaS: how can I switch my content from one SaaS supplier to another? One could state that this is a developing business model, worth investing in in case an organization has a relative small IT department and IT is not the primary business of that organization.

IT architecture and projects

In my projects as consultant, I still encounter customers that do not consider architecture as part of their project. They start projects with vague requirements and are of the opinion that these requirements will become stable during software construction. In our current webbed society, they also forget that the software has to function in an open environment. It is their opinion that interfaces with other partners in an organization network will become stable at the end.

What they forget is that partners also have to adjust their software to be able to function in the new environment. A software component can only be developed, in case all interfaces are fully specified. IT architecture has several views, e.g. a business and information view. One of the views is: the set of components and their interfaces. Clear, concise and complete specification of those interfaces allows all partners in a network to adjust their software simultaneously. The result will be a fully functioning system, operational within planning and hopefully budget.