Sometimes "free" is not so free.
I recently discovered this when a large, global system integrator (SI) deployed Alfresco Labs, our free and unsupported product, for a large client in Europe. The SI wasn't a partner of ours, and as the client soon learned when its deployment stumbled, the SI wasn't capable of providing enterprise-class support on the product. Yes, it knew the product well enough to deploy it and get paid over $50 million for its trouble, but when the deployment hit a glitch, guess to whom the SI came crawling for help?
It's not just my company. I know of another global SI that has deployed well over 100 Mule ESB instances, without buying support through MuleSource for its clients for a single one of them. If something goes wrong with those installations, the enterprise clients are going to end up paying a premium for the SI to figure out how to resolve the problems on the client's dime, never mind potential indemnification issues.
Not all SIs act like this, at least not all the time. My own company works closely with Satyam, SAIC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others, and Accenture sells supported instances of the Spring Framework, but this is the exception to the rule for the large SIs, many of which seem happy to deploy open-source software for their clients without buying support or production-grade versions of the software.
Such SIs seem to believe that life has started raining free lunches.
This is a myopic way to do business, as the large SI in my initial example found: in that example, spending $50,000 (in the midst of a $50 million project) would have saved the SI the embarrassment and cost of trying to support a product that experience proved it didn't know nearly as well as it thought it did. The SI risked the success of a $50 million project to boost its margins by $50,000, only to find that one problem with the software ended up costing it and the client far more than $50,000.
If you're an enterprise looking for a strong SI on a project, here are a few things to consider:… Read more