Exploring the hidden costs of using alternative unsupported community software

“When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price.”*

We all know about the benefits of open source software. Many in the development community within the financial services industry believe that the contributions of a community of developers providing extensive peer review help deliver a more secure, reliable and stable product. The ability to more rapidly deploy new versions provides fertile ground for innovation and collaboration. It is not surprising that open source has gained in popularity among the world’s leading financial institutions and that the developer community sees that the benefits can go beyond the Linux operating system. Virtually every component in the applications software stack may now be sourced from open source software. So, what is the value of an enterprise subscription to open source solutions?  

That is exactly what Red Hat recently commissioned IDC to explore. In their recent report, IDC interviewed financial services institutions using Red Hat open source solutions and asked them to compare their experiences with Red Hat to those of comparable alternative community unsupported software. The research showed that the financial institutions interviewed have captured significant value from Red Hat’s solutions rather than using unsupported community software.

The top four benefits realized by these customers are:

  • Higher IT staff productivity

Investing in subscriptions to supported open source software solutions has enabled enhanced productivity of application developers and IT infrastructure teams. By integrating systems and processes, organizations in the research study were able to improve productivity, and decrease the staff cost associated with new applications and features. Delivering more applications and features in less time reduced reactive firefighting and streamlined the workflow by eliminating unnecessary tasks.

  • Business and user productivity benefits

Respondents to the research describe a greater ability to support the needs of their business when using supported open source software rather than unsupported community software alternatives because they were enabled to deliver applications faster.  The supported, enterprise version of the software provided increased integration between development efforts, allowing development teams across the business to be more productive. The right technology can increase efficiency, save money and reduce waste while outdated tools can hold business growth back.

  • IT infrastructure cost avoidances

Financial institutions rely on their products and services being available at all times and any amount of downtime can have devastating effects. Whether revenue losses, or reputational damage, financial institutions must avoid outages. Since there is no SLA-based support available for community projects, organizations using unsupported open source software can be more prone to  outages.

  • Risk mitigation

Using supported open source software, respondents to the research reported being more able to meet compliance obligations in a cost efficient manner. Risk can also be mitigated when using supported open source software because developers are able to resolve problems more quickly and effectively, and keep their infrastructures operating at peak performance.  More and more I.T. decision makers at leading financial institutions have realized they need a more formalized enterprise security resolution process, where issues are tracked, identified, classified and resolved by a trusted response team. Financial institutions also need the ability to demonstrate data lineage to regulators. The community, unsupported solutions generally do not offer this kind of visibility.

As open source products have matured over the past decade, even some of the most risk-averse IT organizations have recognized the benefits of the enterprise open source approach. And many leading financial institutions have experienced the flexibility, scalability, performance, reliability, and customer satisfaction benefits available through open source solutions. This IDC research shows that the value achieved with supported open source software solutions outweighs the upfront investment costs associated with supported, enterprise solutions.

Please let us know your thoughts on this blog and the research report by IDC in the comments section below.

* GNU General Public License

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