IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Free to buy

By Contributor
Mon 1 Feb 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Resolving the conundrum of purchasing free software.

By Dr John Rankin, Affinity Limited, Director.

How do you buy something that is free? Under standard procurement processes, it is often easier to buy proprietary software than to choose a free open source software (FOSS) option, even if the latter offers better business value. However, buyers and sellers both benefit when FOSS receives full and fair consideration during the procurement process. Buyers gain control over what they spend, with whom, and when. Sellers get to compete on a level playing field, rather than one tilted in favour of proprietary software.

Efficient competition is a prerequisite for an effective and varied software market. FOSS can be supported, maintained and developed by multiple vendors, giving buyers increased choice. Buyers need to use procurement processes which let them take advantage of this. The most effective model is two-phase procurement, which unbundles software from services. Firstly, adopt the software which best meets the business needs, then subscribe to the services needed to deliver full business value from the adopted software. The licence that applies to FOSS gives adopters a permanent and irrevocable right to use the software. The subscription gives limited-time access to services such as implementation and training, technical support, defect resolution and release management.

The adoption phase generally includes downloading and deploying the software within a limited user group. The subscription phase progressively scales up the initial deployment to the full user community. This adoption-led process reduces the buyer’s cost and risk, requiring no long-term contractual commitment until the preferred option is proven. This is quite different from the practice of running a pilot project with proprietary software, which requires the vendor’s permission, or using a version of the software that expires after a limited period or is restricted to a limited number of users. It highlights the fundamental difference between proprietary and FOSS licensing schemes.

To implement adoption-led procurement, many buyers follow a ‘free software first’ strategy. This means evaluating and adopting FOSS without going to tender, since no purchase or licence fee is involved. Some buyers procure professional services to identify, install and assess FOSS options, and recommend a preferred option. Procurement of implementation and support services takes place after adoption of a preferred FOSS option. To promote transparency and knowledge sharing, buyers often publish their FOSS evaluation and selection findings. If the evaluation leads to rejection of the FOSS option, some buyers publish information on how the options considered fell below minimum requirements, so that developers can improve the software.

In evaluating FOSS, buyers need to use a suitable methodology. For example, some software is offered under dual open source and commercial licences. Not all such schemes are created equal; sometimes the open source version has limited functionality and the full version requires the commercial licence. Many people consider that dual licensing ought to mean a choice of licences, not different functionality. Other factors to assess include use of open data standards, the strength and diversity of the community, the software road map, the availability of commercial support, software portability across platforms, and the release frequency of updated versions of said software.

Other buyers use a procurement process seeking software plus services. However, expecting solution providers to respond to a software RFP (request for procurement) with a FOSS solution, with no way to recover their bid costs through licence fees, is anti-competitive and brings the tender process into disrepute. The buyer’s interest lies in actively and fairly assessing FOSS alternatives to proprietary software. To achieve this, RFP documents can invite the successful tenderer of a FOSS solution to recover a one-time service fee, included in the tender price, or invite providers to include generic responses. This will encourage innovative solution approaches and send a clear message that advantage will fall to sellers demonstrating best overall value.

Finally, buyers need to demonstrate to a sceptical FOSS vendor community that they will give full and fair consideration to FOSS options. Unfortunately, some buyers have a bias (stated or unstated) towards commercial (ie: proprietary) off-the-shelf software and use FOSS alternatives to extract discounts from a proprietary vendor. Many people argue that demonstrating commitment to open data standards and interoperability is one essential pre-condition. A simple way to show this is by making RFP documents available, and accepting tender responses, in ODF (OpenDocument  Format).

By using procurement processes that give equal opportunity to FOSS solutions, purchasing organisations extend their options and get best value for money. Unbundling software adoption from service subscription lets buyers and sellers work constructively together in new ways.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Sustainability
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS announces new products amid cloud portfolio success
Analytics and AI company SAS is deepening its broad industry portfolio with offerings that support life sciences, energy, and martech.
Story image
Lightspeed
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Customer experience
Research unveils precarious customer loyalty for retailers
New research has found customers are reassessing established brand loyalties as their priorities and behaviours shift.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Wireless
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Fonterra
Fonterra to use automated guided vehicles by Dematic
New Zealand's dairy giant Fonterra is upgrading its manufacturing facility in Edendale with new automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Dematic.
Story image
SaaS
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
CFOs using digital workers and AI to prevent unnecessary loss
New technology is now allowing CFOs to use digital workers to automate their accounting processes, making it easier for them to avoid unnecessary losses.
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
Attain
Revenue operations is taking centre stage
As the business world continues to evolve, new demands need to be met to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. 
Story image
Sisense
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Vodafone
Vodafone NZ buys remaining stake in retail joint venture
Vodafone New Zealand has purchased the remaining 50% stake in the specialist joint venture (JV) with private equity company Millennium Corp.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom appeals $2.25 million fine in Vodafone FibreX case
The Commerce Commission has filed an appeal in the High Court against a $2.25 million fine imposed on Vodafone NZ for its offending under the Fair Trading Act.
Story image
Collaboration
Meadows exits Ingram Micro New Zealand on a good note
We look at the resignation of Danny Meadows from Ingram Micro's New Zealand Unified Communications & Collaboration business unit.
Story image
Microsoft
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Microsoft
PwC NZ unveils new Cloud Security Operations Center
PwC New Zealand has unveiled its new Cloud Security Operations Center for the entire Microsoft technology stack.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
Pluralsight and Ingram Micro Cloud team up on cloud initiative
Pluralsight has teamed with Ingram Micro Cloud to build upon cloud competence and maturity internally, and externally support partners’ capabilities.
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The Huawei APAC conference kicks off with digital transformation
More than 1500 people from across APAC have gathered for the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress to explore the future of digital innovation.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Trading up: It's time to swap core systems for flexible digital applications
This year will see more oranisations planning and commencing high tech renovations that will shake up the way they operate.
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.