Companies who use Open Source software for mission critical applications are taking tremendous and unnecessary risks. So says Gary Tyreman, CEO of Univa, a Workload Automation software company offering products that unify Big Compute and Big Data.

He claims that using Free Open Source Software (FOSS) is particularly dangerous because if something breaks at a critical time, you’re out on a limb and there may be no one to call for help.

And even if there is, he adds, Open Source software, by its very nature, is still in production and therefore unstable.

Challenging the True Cost of Open Source

“'Free' then becomes very expensive,” says Tyreman, especially if you compare it to something like Univa’s Grid Engine.

“We’ve written more than a million lines of code, added features and applied bug fixes to make our product more stable. Open Source software doesn’t work as flawlessly as ours,” he claims. Tyreman then adds that Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of most proprietary software is lower as compared with Open Source, not only because it (allegedly) requires less support and fewer services, but also because there’s less downtime with it.

Hogwash, say Enterprise Open Source software vendors such as Alfresco, MapR, MongoDB and WANdisco. We’ll get to their reasons for such a strong sentiment later.

When challenged, Tyreman concedes that there may be cases when Open Source products might be worth considering. “I’ve used them for personal projects at home, and I’ve even tried them at my own company,” he admits. But he qualifies the second half of his sentence by pointing out that it was for an application which wouldn’t affect his company’s top or bottom lines. Besides, he adds, he has since replaced it with an internally written application anyway.

“You certainly can’t use Open Source for something that’s the lifeblood of the company,” reiterates Tyreman.

He then clarifies that he’s not talking about companies like Facebook with its large team of brilliant engineers. “They have a different way of getting things done than companies like Samsung or Panasonic.”

Tyreman points out that there is evidence to support his claims -- he refers to a survey that uSamp conducted on his company’s behalf. It found that three in four companies who use Open Source experience issues with it: stability, usability, crashes and bugs are among those cited. See infograph below for details.

UNIVA iFOSS Survey Infographic 041213.JPG

Open Source Vendors Speak Out

Open Source evangelist, Matt Asay, who is 10gen’s (the MongoDB company) VP of Strategy, strongly disagrees with Tyreman.