By Andreea Volosincu
Let’s talk about the issues around proprietary software and closed ecosystems. Using them keeps your embedded devices enclosed. However, some may come to think there is no better option out there, especially when they’ve seen how other people have tried to break the proprietary bond but failed. Yes, looking at you Munich! Meanwhile the world continues to innovate at stellar speeds, and you constantly play a game of catch up.
Seems a bit of a paradox, doesn’t it? Staying behind with proprietary software is often not a viable option anymore in today’s transforming embedded markets. Yet, going completely open source doesn’t give you peace of mind either. It’s a good thing that we can learn from other’s mistakes. Opening the Munich file – back in 2004 the city administration decided to switch to a Linux based OS. Ten years later, the cost of supporting and maintaining that software became so great that they are in the process of switching back to Windows, largely because “the city had to hire programmers to build out functionality that they needed and then had to pay the staff to maintain the software.”
Time was obviously not on Munich’s side, but that’s no reason to go backwards. Perhaps it’s helpful to think of open source software like a cute puppy: it needs a lot of attentionbut if trained properly it can grow into an amazing friend. Sure, open source has no license tied to it, but if we leave it alone in the woods, it will require more grooming down the road, or in the case of the Munich project, a conversion of 9000+ machines back to Windows.
This equates to a great deal of work for every development team, open source savvy or not. An easy solution would be to turn to the experts. They will give you the peace of mind that comes with support and maintenance for your software, but also protection from other legal liabilities, as well as the elimination of lengthy certification processes.
If your developer team is up to the task of building in functionality and they still want to get their hands dirty, they should do that, but just that. Concentrate on productivity, on features that actually make a difference, instead of recreating the wheel and watching maintenance costs soar over time. When faced with the build vs. buy decision, let experts like Wind River help you evaluate the options to consider in fully understand what it takes to maintain a roll-your-own solution down the road. For years, Wind River has been working with countless customers, and helping them bring their devices to the market while staying on schedule and avoiding unpredictable soaring costs. Wind River Linux receives constant attention and care, with regular fixes and updates delivered safely through an automatic electronic delivery system that is easy to use. Also, when dealing with the unexpected, hot fixes are available instantly, within 24 hours. For example, this is what we’ve done with the recent OpenSSL Heartbleed and Bash Shell Shock vulnerabilities.
Essentially, Wind River can help keep the “puppy” well fed, perfectly groomed, and immunized against all threats. So, will your project flourish with proprietary software or are you interested in unlocking the open source advantage?