This blog discusses the importance of Software Tools and the role they play in providing a crucial lever towards creating business value. In addition, it discusses how a clear focus on tools and productivity enables efficient and effective delivery of best-in-class business and technology solutions.

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Open Source tools - A Cost Effective method for Software Development

In recent times the pressure on technology expenditures and budgets has led to organizations exploring various cost effective methodologies in software development and delivery, without compromising on quality and security. The usage of Open Source tools across SDLC seems to be a very attractive and cost effective solution to address the above scenario.

The tools deployment program, like the one implemented by Infosys Tools Group takes into account the areas in which investments would be necessary while deploying Open Source tools:-

  • Third party vendor support
  • Risks due to the usage of Open Source tools
  • Building in house competencies for continuous support and deployment of Open Source tools

While deciding upon the usage of Open Source tools cost effectiveness is one of the factors, but what organizations actually take into account is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).  Whether it is commercial or Open Source tools, the one with lowest TCO would be desired in the long term. Factors favoring the usage of Open Source tools as one of strategies for cost effective development would be:-

  • Tool purchase cost is zero
  • No renewal, upgrade, AMC & additional license purchase cost
    Reduced administration and cost on maintaining, tracking license usage
  • Freely available source code for Open Source tools, that would safeguard from possible collapse of key products for which the company and the vendor do not provide enough support on

Prior to the actual implementation the Tools team takes into consideration the following possible risks and their mitigations on the usage of Open Source tools.

  • Legal Risks
    • Intellectual Property, Copy rights, Distribution, modification, warranty etc.
  • Operational Risks
    • Code Integrity, Security, Documentation etc.
  • Tactical Risks
    • Compatibility & Interoperability, Maturity of Software, Forking, Support etc.

Embracing Open Source is the way forward to reduce costs in building software. But the quality, security and the value system of the organization should never become susceptible to the risks posed through adoption of Open Source. Before embarking on an Open Source implementation, proper mitigation and contingency strategies should be put in place to prevent its harmful repercussions. Before choosing the Open Source solution for implementation, following points have to be taken care by the organization

  • Establishment of Legal/Open Source/Intellectual Property team to guide users on the Open Source license and publish the organization's Open Source usage policy & guidelines
  • Clear understanding of the consequences of using Open Source tools
  • Evaluation of the Open Source tools for any security vulnerabilities through the central software security team
  • As applicable, adoption of insurance policies to safeguard against any risks by the usage of Open Source tools
  • In-house competency building to support the Open Source tools and to contribute in improving the software
  • Contingency plans for incidents such as abandonment of Open Source tools by the community, take over by proprietary organizations, lack of support, etc.
  • Ensuring availability of third party vendors to get support on Open Source tools

Implementation of Open Source tools in a manner that appreciates not just the benefits but also the legal, operational and tactical risks associated and plans for a proactive mitigation and contingency of these risks is the way forward.

PS:- Published with inputs from Kirshnakanth_BN@infosys.com

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