Why source matters to SaaS

While it's true that ordinary people, like me, may have no more idea how to fix our software bugs than we do the intake manifolds on our pick-up trucks, a SaaS vendor is more in the position of a trucking company.

American Trucker buckle from Belt Buckles of Estes
Gartner's Robert DeSisto is right that Software as a Service (SaaS) companies are moving to open source.

But I believe he underestimates the trend because he doesn't understand the motivation. (Belt Buckles of Estes carries a full line of trucker buckles. Wha? Read on.)

Cost has nothing to do with it. Control has everything to do with it.

The idea of letting someone else run your business is ludicrous on its face. When a SaaS vendor depends on closed source programs that is precisely what they're doing.

Consider what happens when something breaks:

  • A closed source customer calls the vendor and goes into the vendor's trouble ticket process.
  • An open source customer puts out an SOS to the vendor, their own employees, and everyone else using the software in question. Then they get to work on it themselves.

Who is going to get their problem solved first? More important, who is going to have more control over the search for a solution?

It's possible that a closed source vendor might actually get to the solution first. If they make it their top priority. If the solution is obvious.

But even in that case the customer is on-the-hook and helpless while the search goes on.

While it's true that ordinary people, like me, may have no more idea how to fix our software bugs than we do the intake manifolds on our pick-up trucks, a SaaS vendor is more in the position of a trucking company.

Of course they have their own garage. Of course they know how to fix things.

The analogy breaks down at this point, because trucking companies can't make their own parts. SaaS vendors have the potential to be more independent than truckers. They are the true kings of the Internet road.

But only if they're using open source.

That's a big 10-4 good buddy.