Monday, May 6, 2013

Top 5 Reasons people abandon Open Source applications

In my own research and in consultation with some of the Open Source application vendors that offer commercial versions, the somewhat less than scientific analysis is that 90% or so of Open Source applications that are downloaded, get abandoned and never go into production.

The following are some of the reasons cited by those contacted:

  1. It was too hard to install and setup.  If you have ever downloaded one of the larger Open Source applications like ERP or CRM, it is easy to see why someone without significant IT expertise might get frustrated and quit.  The "free lunch" of Open Source therefore gets more expensive by the amount of time spent or the cost of hiring someone to install it and maintain it.  Sometimes the hardware available isn't quite powerful enough, or needs to be on the network, etc.  
  2. It was too hard to learn.  If they happen to get it installed correctly and they start to use it, they find the training materials too hard to follow, or no support, again sometimes there are support resources available and some at a pretty prce, the "free lunch" paradigm.  
  3. It was too hard to use.  This most often comes from a mismatch in the features of the Open Source applications and the requirements of the users.  ERP can do accounting, but if all you need is an Accounting and Financials application, full up ERP is indeed too hard to use.  There also is a gap, the low end is even less well supported than the high end, so while there are many open source low end accounting applications, they tend to have less documentation and less support if any.
  4. It was too costly to run.  Many Open Source applications are web based, therefore require a web application server and a server class machine on the internet.  The "free lunch" isn't so free if you must have a server on the internet and someone to support it, do backups, monitor it, etc.
  5. It doesn't quite fit.  This comes after all the above and sometimes is there but not enough to quit.  It is all bout the features and methods of the Open Source application or its data formats, they may not exactly fit the needs of the companies they have them up and running.  Maybe its a desired field in an invoice, or a process step that must be done manually.  Open Source, does mean it can be changed, that's why this is last.  But the "free lunch" that requires expensive programmer, is not as attractive.
We didn't find any other reasons, but that's because our sample size was relatively small.

We at O4BO specialize in providing Open Source applications as Software as a Service, precisely because so many want it but have these reasons for abandoning it.  We address all of these for Small to Medium sized Businesses that may not have significant IT Expertise.

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