Perhaps the simplest way to understand what you are getting into by using open source is to think of it in terms of the productization idea introduced earlier in this chapter:
Using open source software means taking on the burden of overcoming the lack of productization.
Most open source projects are only partially productized. But all of the information required for you to work around the lack of productization is available.
The key questions are:
How large of a burden will it be to overcome the lack of productization?
Will it be easy or difficult for you to overcome?
Are the risks worth the benefit derived from the software?
The models described in the next chapters are aimed at answering those questions:
It is no accident that the most skilled engineering teams in the country are also the largest users of open source. For them, the cost of overcoming the productization gap is small. The rest of this book will help IT departments understand the size of the gap for them.
In fairness to the open source community, we should mention another interpretation. From the perspective of a person with the required open source skills, the lack of productization is not a problem. Productization might even get in the way of a developer’s needs. From this perspective, the barrier to wider adoption is not the lack of productization, but the lack of skills in those who desire to use open source—the skills gap mentioned earlier.
Remember, productization in a commercial product is not black and white. Some companies do a better job of it than others. There will always be problems to overcome with any software, and commercial software also comes with a productization gap most of the time. In the rest of this chapter, we will look at commercial software and open source software side by side.