Monday, October 22, 2012

"In-house" vs buying a complex "out of box" solutions

This  is my contribution to the religious debate about self-developed "in house" vs buying "out of box"  solutions.

Suppose your manager said enthusiastically that he'd purchase a rich-features "out of box" solution after a visit from a salesman from a famous vendor. Your response is to remind him to not rely on vendor solutions blindly, since a rich-feature third party product might have many disadvantages:

  •  Difficult to configure, difficult to learn.
  • Expensive total cost of ownership: need big resources, each of the product have complexities its own and need to hire expensive specialists for maintenance, upgrade, integration.
  • In reality only small amounts of the features are really used/necessary.
  • Dependency to vendor e.g. if you have an urgent bug but the vendor refuse to create a patch soon.
  • Vendor locking: you can't easily move your solution to other platform. This can be a problem if the vendor discontinue the product or if the license price becomes too expensive.
  • Even though the salesman advertised direct out of the box solution, in reality you need to spend works to integrate this external product with your environment (i.e. interfacing with existing ERP systems/databases in your company).
  • Due to time difference with the vendor's support team, it can be difficult to discuss the problems. Sometime you need to wait for the answer from your question until the next day. Sometime you need to stay out of the normal working hours to debug the problems together with the support.
  • With in house knowledge the root cause analysis and the solutions are more transparent than if you just buy a black box solution.

One of a good trade off is: open source solutions. You don't have to build from scratch / reinventing the wheel but you have more control over the code and its development.

Similar argument holds for clouds solution. Clouds solution might add dependency to the service provider, it will be more difficult to debug the problems for example in comparison with if you have the code & in house knowledge.

Source: Steve's blogs

Any comments are welcome :)


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