I constantly revisit the thoughts on purchased products vs open source products and how they work in the business world. I like Open Source Software because it is a great resource to learn from, but have noticed that there are applications that are really good with few developers. That alone causes a support issue when something breaks.
Usually with purchased software you buy the product and expect, and usually get, reasonable timely support when something goes wrong. If it is from a small ISV usually you get better support and if it is a bug they tend to get an update for the bug fix out relatively quickly. Since employees there are paid to work on the product there is constant forward movement, usually, on iteratively released software. Generally you know what to expect with most companies especially when purchasing from a reputable company.
Open Source Software
With OSS you generally get a good product, but with one caveat. You never know what support is going to be like. I have used several OSS pieces of software and on a few have extremely awesomely cool support. Most it is generally mediocre at best if you can get the main devs to even listen to the problem you have.
Then you have the projects that make me hate OSS people where the support is so horrid you don't want to even try to use it even though it is the only option. Basically, if you have a problem you get an RTFM, learn what you are doing newb, or write something up on it so others can learn. None of these actually solve the problem at hand and just lead to really piss me off. And updates from these proejcts are usually a "I'm not paid to do this so you get it when you get it" type attitude. To me this is bad for the OSS community and why I stay away from a lot of OSS products when considering something for the business world.
Behind good products are usually good communities that offer support to others, this is good. However, community support should be backed up by a good core support team whether it be the company/dev team from a purchased product or the dev team of the OSS project. If there isn't either than you can run into bad attitudes and problems.
I find that people don't mind purchasing software because they can get good support from either the company and/or a great community, but they will not use OSS software because they can't be guaranteed what type of support they will get.
Utopia vs Life
I have noticed an increasing number of people lately who get into the "OSS for all" type attitude and that proprietary software is evil. While I can understand where they come from this is a dangerous line of thought because it leads to people with bad attitudes towards feature requests or questions on updates and direction of a project.
On a few projects I have seen people ask if a feature will be implemented and a usual response is "write-it yourself". Yes, this would be wonderful if people would or even could do that on their own. Or they ask what direction a product is going because they are interested in it; then when they find out it doesn't go the way they want it to they ask why not do this. This sometimes leads to a "You can branch it and take it that way, but we aren't going to bother". Point being is they were just curios and they got stuck with a "piss off" response.
Basically, what I am getting at is with purchased software most people understand what they are getting into, and don't question it because it has always been this way. However, with the recent push for OSS the last few years to break into the corporate world it is leading to a lot of animosity between business people and OSS dev's. Honestly, some OSS people need to pull their head out of their asses and realize that OSS isn't a utopia they think it is and isn't going to be. Business people need to shut the fuck up and realize that you are in a different time when it comes to software, and just because you aren't paying for it doesn't mean it isn't a good product.
If we can get OSS people to be more reasonable about development and business people to be more patient when dealing with OSS products things could go a lot further and cool things could happen. We could even get some great "synergy". 😉
p.s. this was a stream of thought post that has been brewing in my mind for the last few months. Please, leave comments on this if you want.