Dec 7, 2011

Why Start-Ups Should Use Open Source

I currently work for a relatively small start-up firm in La Jolla California, and it's budget time. I'm not going to lie, I am not fond of justifying IT spending, and it rather gets me sick to my stomach. To me IT spending is very necessary in this day and age. Everything runs on computers, and everything is stored as little ones and zeros on hard drives. You really can't escape it any more. If you are a technology company, which is to say you provide some kind of computer based product, IT spending is even more critical.

Where I think a lot of start-ups go wrong is in their choice of software. You can't really get away from buying server hardware, but you can get away from spending gobs of money on software if you go with open source from the get go. Even if you have the money to spend on software, why would you not want to take that money and better spend it on faster, more robust hardware?

What got me thinking of this is I recently got some quotes on VMware, and Microsoft for next year's budget. Just to give you some numbers, we are looking at a Microsoft agreement of around $50,000 for three years, and that is only operating systems. If we looked at SQL Server enterprise on our two physical servers using the per processor model because we use the databases to serve content to external customers, we are looking at another $200,000 for three years. Holy crap! Plus I need an additional VMWare server to plan for capacity, that's another $5,000. This software is adding up fast!

greedy microsoft vmware

Just think how much more we could be doing if we took that $255,000 and put it towards a blade enclosure with gobs of ram, then ran everything on Ubuntu or CentOS which is free! We could even get a cheaper Hypervisor than VMWare. I mean Citrix XenServer Advanced is only $1,000 per server! We get a blade enclosure, load it up with XenServer, and run a ton of Linux VM's for free!

Just take the $200,000 price tag for Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise. If my company considered going with a free enterprise level database like PostgreSQL from the beginning, we probably could have been profitable by now. PostgreSQL is comparible to Microsoft SQL Server in every way except it's free! At the very least, it would have been easier to afford the monster servers that SQL Enterprise currently runs on.

Just about everything a business needs software wise is available in a free open source alternative. Payroll, CRM, help desk ticketing, collaboration, email, etc. Everything can be done in a start up using open source for way less that buying commercial software like Microsoft or VMWare.I honestly feel a new company's money would be better spent on good hardware, than over priced software. It's better for the bottom line, it's better for the employees, and it's better for the investors.

Do you agree or disagree? I want to hear your take in the comments.

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