Open Source Is Not Always The Way To Go

While open source offers great features and flexibility the total cost of ownership issue can still result in choosing a different path sometimes

This is an open source blog, but I try to call them as I see them. In the case of CuDerm and Cypress Communications, it seems like the open source solution may not have been the best option. CuDerm was using the widely popular, open source VOIP solution, Asterisk by Digium. But in their analysis, taking everything into account they are going to get more for their money going with a managed VOIP solution by Cypress Communications. I don't disagree.

What is this blasphemy you say? No, not all. But you have to take the total cost of ownership of any solution into account and the skill set and resources available to operate and administer it. In the case of CuDerm and frankly for many SMB businesses the open source solution can end up being more expensive in the long run.

Of course the whole managed solution option adds another level to the analysis. Now it is no longer what the software/hardware costs, but what it costs to operate that comes into play. My experience is that usually managed services are not in and of themselves cheaper. But the issue is what it would cost to ramp up to that same level of coverage.

In the case of Cypress Communications, they supply everything from the phones themselves to the network behind it. This allowed CuDerm to have only one vendor to deal with for unified communications, while still using best-of-breed equipment.

Frank Grillo of Cypress said this about using the hosted solution versus the open source solution,

“The prospect of open source technologies can be enticing, but the amount of technical expertise required, extensive capital investments and intricate integration creates complexities that can render them unfeasible for many of today’s small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). As a hosted solution, C4 IP comes complete with all of the hardware and software required, along with a knowledgeable provider to manage the solution from the network to the phone on each desk. Companies like CuDerm can focus on their core competencies while we provide a top-notch communications experience.”

But let me just throw something else out at you. My experience in the security market is not much different than this VOIP example. Managed security service providers can deliver a 24 x 7 fully managed solution for less than it would cost you to do with an open source or not solution that you need to manage yourself. 

The fact is that many, if not most managed security service providers are actually using open source solutions under the hood. This is not the case with Cypress, I asked. They do not use any open source VOIP platform. But there are plenty who do. So maybe a fair comparison is not using an open source VOIP solution versus a managed VOIP solution. Maybe to compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges, we need to compare a managed VOIP solution using open source under the hood versus a managed VOIP solution not using open source like Cypress.

I challenge any open source VOIP managed service providers to chime in here and maybe we can do a comparison.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors (and yourself)