Open Source versus COTS

26 Jan

Public Sector Big Data: 5 Ways Big Data Must Evolve in 2013

Much of this article rings true. However, the last section requires some explanation:

“One could argue that as open source goes in 2013, Big Data goes as well. If open source platforms and tools continue to address agency demands for security, scalability, and flexibility, benefits within from Big Data within and across agencies will increase exponentially. There are hundreds of thousands of viable open source technologies on the market today. Not all are suitable for agency requirements, but as agencies update and expand their uses of data, these tools offer limitless opportunities to innovate. Additionally, opting for open source instead of proprietary vendor solutions prevents an agency from being locked into a single vendor’s tool that it may at some point outgrow or find ill-suited for their needs.”

I take exception to this in that the decision to go open source versus COTS is really not that simple. It really depends on a number of things: the nature of your business; the resources you have available to you; and the enterprise platforms and legacy in place to name a few. If you implement a COTS tool improperly you can be locked into using that tool – just the same as if you implement an Open Source tool improperly.

How locked in you are to any tool is largely a question of how the solution is architected! Be smart and take your time ensuring that the logical architecture ensures the right level of abstraction that ensures a level of modularity; and thus flexibility. This article talks about agile BI architectures – we need to be thinking the same way system architectures.

My feeling is that we are headed to a world where COTS products work in conjunction with Open Source – currently there are many examples of COTS products that ship with Open Source components – how many products ship with a Lucene indexer for example?

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