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Supporting Opinion | Open vs. Closed

Closed-Source Software for When You Are Serious

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chapAnjou
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Re: One-two punch
chapAnjou   9/28/2012 4:35:28 PM
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"I have tried some open source software and was frustrated by the process. My biggest complain was lack of support."

This is also another key determining factor between using open source or not.  Typical open source software can be extremely complicated in setting up.  Although this was a bigger issue a number of years ago.  Nowadays open source collbaorators have come up with traditional solutions for product installation.

chapAnjou
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Prospector
Who determines...
chapAnjou   9/28/2012 4:31:14 PM
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"If I have many individuals (i.e., weekend code warriors) working on features, how am I able to ensure the software has the features my company wants and needs? Who evaluates the marketplace to determine the key feature set?"


I think open source usually means that people have full access to the "guts" of the program and can make whatever changes, but there is usually a core group of users who dictate what is deemed worthy of becoming officially adopted.  I think you map out what it is you definitely need and what you want and compare them against the feature set of various open source solutions.  If your potential solution doesn't fit what you need now, there's no use waiting around for it to be implemented by the community.  Or if it has more than what you need, this is no different than enterprise software where users end up taking advantage of only a small percentage of the entire feature set.

chapAnjou
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Prospector
Open vs. Licensed
chapAnjou   9/28/2012 4:26:29 PM
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Obviously it depends on what the application for the software is, but for the most part I find open-source programs are set up trying to mimic the "big boys".  For example, the open source photo editing software Gimp tries with all of its little heart to be Photo Shop.  At the end of the day, all it winds up being is a poor man's PS.  I feel, and this is just my personal opinion, that most open source software follows this trend.


One exception would have to be Content Management Systems.  Joomla and Drupal are two extremely powerful and versatile CMS that are, in many ways, better than enterprise solutions.

Pierre DeBois
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Blogger
Re: One-two punch
Pierre DeBois   8/21/2012 4:19:40 AM
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Tricia,

I think the adoption likelihood is centered on different types of software, and what is accepted as strategic to the company.  Most companies that see the application as an essential part of how services and products are delivered are going to want to see high-quality service for those applications.  It's why some open sources are treated like a public service or a utility and why others are supported.

TAanderud
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Blogger
Re: FUD
TAanderud   8/19/2012 7:20:40 AM
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Why do you think that is?

TAanderud
User Rank
Blogger
Re: One-two punch
TAanderud   8/19/2012 7:11:47 AM
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Do you think some industries are more accepting of open-source than others?  Or do you think it's centered around the type of software?  For instance, WordPress and Linux may be welcomed but other software packages would not be seriously considered.  

Just this year I noticed that Pentaho made an entrance on the Gartner Magic Quandrant for BI, but it is only a niche player.  Seems like the closed-software packages for BI still lead the pack. 

Lyndon_Henry
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Blogger
Re: FUD
Lyndon_Henry   8/18/2012 6:08:59 PM
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..

BenBJohnson writes


I will say that one downside of closed source is that the company that makes your software could just close its doors.


 

Yes. Also, with some closed-source software companies, user support is zilch.  While I don't have experience selecting software for a large organization, on a personal level, my experience is that the quality of closed or open software depends on the software and the provider.

 

zentree
User Rank
Prospector
Re: One-two punch
zentree   8/18/2012 5:27:04 PM
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I would say that we don't have to take sides in open-source/closed-source; that discussion is so 1990s... Many companies will use a combination of both and the art is finding the right balance for each application. 

TAanderud
User Rank
Blogger
Re: One-two punch
TAanderud   8/18/2012 11:19:55 AM
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Thank you for your response - I enjoy the debate! I was not exactly sure how to take a side on closed source software.  

 

 

zentree
User Rank
Prospector
Re: One-two punch
zentree   8/18/2012 12:17:34 AM
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I will focus this reply on a direct competitor of SAS: the R statistical system, which is both free in the sense of open source and purchase cost. As other commenters have pointed out before, free doesn't mean no cost but mostly access to the source so it can be adapted, if needed, to particular requirements. On terms of experience, I used SAS for over 10 years in an almost daily basis (mostly the BASE, STAT, GRAPH and IML modules), although now I rarely use it. I started using R in 1999, while working in my PhD. I completely moved to R around 2008.

Reading your piece one would think that R was maintained by "weekend warriors" but, let's face it, the list of core contributors is very respectable. In fact, the list of contributors beyond the core—to R "packages", libraries that extend functionality—also include many domain-specific experts.

Is closed source free of problems? No. I vividly remember one day, I think it was 2002/3 when we decided to rerun some analyses we did with proc glm a year before. In the meantime we changed SAS versions and some effects changed from significant to non-significant. We contacted SAS and, yes, it was an "issue", which was sorted in the next release. Does R have "issues"? Of course it does, but there are many more eyes looking at them and working on fixing them, often more quickly than in SAS.

Will your company get employees that know how to use open source? In many departments we have moved to teaching statistics using R, so your future employees are in fact much more familiar with R than with SAS. In some universities, stats departments basically dropped SAS from their curriculum.

Will your company get support with R? Yes, look at the traffic of the main email list for R. In addition, there are companies that provide R in a commercial basis, with commercial support; e.g. Revolution Analytics.

Will your company get access to the latest analytics procedures in R? Well, you will *only* get access to those in R, because most statisticians first implement them using R. That's why SAS *had* to provide access to R.

Am I saying that R is superior to SAS? No. However, I think that your reasons and experience with analytics open source software are quite shallow. I think that companies will have to consider their specific circumstances, legacy systems, interfaces to other systems, etc. when considering how to manage their analytics. A good professional will apply a "horses for courses" approach in building the best possible system for his/her clients/customers. Sometimes the best solution will be closed source, sometimes open source and sometimes a combination of both. Rather than presenting a caricature of open source alternatives we should strive to learn about available options for our customers, even if they are open source.

Luis

P.S. Funnily enough SAS uses an open source product (Apache) to serve their web site. Aren't they serious about their web presence?

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