Associate professor and senior research scientist, CDAC, Noida
A few years ago, during my tenure in the banking industry we always looked at open source software with caution. At that time the concern was that how to get support for open source software when the system goes down. There was nobody who could be called for support. That was the condition of the industry then and I am not sure if the scenario has changed now.
Within CDAC we are using open source software and have also contributed to open source community. Right now we are using open source technologies for programming and database for certain mission critical applications.
The subscription-based model is very common in open source technologies. I wanted to migrate a product which was based on particular technology to open source. So I considered many options and identified a product which was closest to the functionalities I required. But as I worked deeper and deeper into it, I realised I didn’t have the functionalities available in the default open source software which were available in the licensed software. So I contacted the people who are supporting it and I had to choose a subscription model for support. Therein I was told that for every additional feature there was another level of subscription that was to be taken. Therefore I always have my doubt about the subscription models. Also, the purpose of migrating to open source, avoiding vendor lock-in, was diluted. I realised that from one vendor we were moving to another, of course for some extra features, support on demand and a huge difference in costs as compared to a licensed product. Availability of support at the right time is crucial for adoption of open source, which in my opinion is still not there.
However, having said above, research in area of open source technologies is very important.
I would expect universities, governing bodies like University Grants Commission and other research bodies to support research in open source through policy and funding. This will help the participants as they will have some resources to work on.
Also there is another dilemma of encouraging students to look at open source technologies as a career option. If I say to my students, to start looking at open source as a career option, I may not be able to convince more than one or two out of 100 students, as the visibility of career opportunities for open source professionals is poor in India.
It opens the door of opportunities
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