Here’s an interesting story about a midsized company being held hostage by their credit card processing software vendor. What’s really interesting is their conclusions from the experience. A decade ago, companies were skeptical about dealing with open source software because they felt that having no company behind it exposed them to too much risk. The conclusion of this company was that using proprietary software that left them no alternatives was too much exposure, and that their desire is for an open source alternative to run their business.
It’s interesting the number of companies that are coming to make this decision, that worse comes to worst if they have the source to the software they can pay someone to work with it. When you buy a black box on someone else’s terms, you dance to their tune. Particularly when via mergers and acquisition the company you now have a relationship with is not the one you began with and maybe not the one you would have chosen, it sucks to play on their terms.
Open source is no panacea, but it is higher flexibility and there are certainly real world situations where the difference between having flexibility and not means staying in business or not.