Mar 21

HeidiVane, writing, reading and researching #7 (10 points)

Recently I came across a blog post from an open-source competitor touting the benefits of — you guessed it — open source reporting software. Not surprisingly, since Windward offers proprietary reporting software, I have a different take.

The blog post’s six main points, followed by my rebuttal:

  1. Open source software is free. Okay, so that’s initially true in most cases; there are typically no purchase fees. But that doesn’t take into account any additional costs, such potential costs, such as proprietary add-ons, special hardware, training, installation, customer support, and (my personal favorite) documentation.
  2. The hidden beauty of free reporting software. The first sentence of this section reads “Open source BIRT can report over a wide variety of data sources such as SQL server or Oracle based applications plus Excel spreadsheets amongst others.” Not sure what the implication is here — that commercial software can’t do this? Not true. Windward handles all these data sources and more. The section also implies that open source is better because you’ll never run into having too many users at one time, thereby tripping over license requirements. I’ll concede that point, although I don’t know how earth-shattering it is.
  3. Stability. "Open source solutions are centrally controlled," his argument goes, which makes them more stable. And… so that means proprietary software *isn’t* centrally controlled? If anything, proprietary software has more "central control" than open source.
  4. Support. Because BIRT has been downloaded over 10 million times, the argument goes, it has lots of users who must be posting info online and answering questions. Hmmm. I’d rather know I had direct access to an expert in a software app who is paid to help me instead of having to rely solely on other users.
  5. Reduction of in house and external support requirements. “BIRT represents a single reporting solution across all enterprise applications meaning that there is only a single platform for staff to learn and maintain and a single portal from where all enterprise reports can be accessed.” This has absolutely NOTHING to do with being an open source application. Next point:
  6. Information, not data. He goes on: “BIRT reports are graphically rich, featuring standard listings which can be colour coded depending on data content, banded for ease of readability, viewable in a web browser” and more. Again, this has nothing to do with being open source. We can make the same arguments about Windward’s software having great features and benefits.