Companies, particularly fast-growing ones, will still choose packaged software over building their own because such tools have become more customizable over time to better suit their requirements. There are, however, exceptions where it will make more sense to develop the software internally.
Daphne Chung, associate research director of software at IDC Asia-Pacific's domain research group, pointed out the decision for companies to buy or build their own software is dependent on a number of factors, but she is seeing a move toward packaged software and leveraging its customization capabilities.
One of the factors is cost, as it is often less costly for companies to buy software off the shelf, Chung noted. That said, the program will have to meet the company's needs or a lower price will not matter, she added.
The analyst's observations come after Google software engineer, Justin McWilliams, pointed out in a July interview with Cloud Times the Web giant usually build its own software and consider procuring proprietary ones as a last option.
According to McWilliams, Google's infrastructure is so tightly interconnected that even if it buys something off the shelf, it still has to build on top of that program so the software can function effectively within the company's IT systems. In the end, the cost of employing engineers to build and maintain applications is still cheaper than maintaining expensive support contracts with third-party software vendors, he explained in the report.
Availability of internal resources crucial
NCS, the systems integrator and wholly-owned subsidiary of SingTel, shared that there are other considerations besides costs companies should look at when deciding between building and buying its software.
NCS CIO James Loo said: "These include the capability of our internal resources to undertake the job [of building the software], the potential for the software which we develop to be marketed, and the availability of existing options in the market."
Chung concurred, saying enterprises will need the skills in-house to be able to build, maintain, upgrade, and ensure the lifespan and scalability of the software achieve optimum usage.
Availability of infrastructure, tools, and resources to develop one's own software is an important factor that needs to be taken into account too, the IDC analyst added.
For companies looking to create a capability or service that will provide a competitive edge, such functionality is not a general one and cannot be easily customized using a standard software package, she said. For such instances, it is best for them to build the software internally, she suggested.
A SolarWinds spokesperson also commented on the buy-versus-build debate, relating how its customers who have built their own programs using open source software or bought "bloated" enterprise software have been left "dissatisfied".
This dissatisfaction can be attributed to the complexity of the procured software and the lack of skilled IT professionals needed to ensure the software implementation works, he said.
BYOD concerns doesn't dictate decision
Loo added NCS' mobile device management policy, which has technology controls in place to enforce the security and compliance of workers' devices, is sufficient, as opposed to building its own software to increase security and better manage the bring-your-own-device trend.
These IT policies will mitigate the risks of employees losing mobile devices which they use for work by securing and simplifying the management of mobile devices across the company, he added.
For Good Technology, which provides secure mobility tools, the company simply utilizes the software it offers to customers and integrates with the programs they use internally, said Jim Watson, the company's vice president and corporate general manager.
"Our teams in Australia and Singapore work remotely with their own personal devices, and have the Good Dynamics secure container [technology] installed on their device which partitions their corporate data from their personal ones," Watson pointed out.