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Why you should avoid vendor lock-in – and why it’s not always easy

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avoid vendor lock-in

If you want to choose for a product, be locked-in by the vendor and stay with this vendor forever, who are we to tell you otherwise? But when you choose the freedom, the lower costs and the potentials based on an open source promise, make sure the vendor lives up to that promise. A database ‘based on open source’ is not open source and therefore will create a vendor lock-in.

The difference between open and closed source is clear: with open source the user has a license to use ánd develop the solution. The source code is released with the license and this will give users the opportunity to study, adjust, improve, spread and sell the software. The development is a joined effort of individuals, companies and government.

Closed source means that the source will never be shared with its users, but also implies that software becomes off-limits when users stop paying for license and support. It also implies that switching to other solutions will be hard, because characteristics are vendor specific. The biggest reason to avoid vendor lock-in, therefore, is that change is driven by the vendor, not by your needs.

The only constant is change

If we could say anything about the world of IT (but also the world in general) that the only constant is change. We want more, better performance, faster processing. Our business grows or even evolves into another business entirely, and we need a database and applications that grow and change with us. If you are locked-in, you could grow, but it would either cost you a lot of money and a lot of time, or you could let the vendor decide what is good for you.

The unfortunate thing is, however, that some vendors have only half-heartedly embraced open source. They offer ‘based on open source’ software, which gives the idea that you profit from all the benefits of open source, but if you want to leave or change products, it won’t be easy and it definitely won’t be cheap. This open source wash is very unfortunate for you as a customer, but also for the market as a whole.

There is no such thing

New customers come to us in desperation. They think they have chosen the freedom that comes with open source, but found they are restricted in developing the product, looking under the hood and eventually to use an application on a different database. By that time they realize: there is no such thing as ‘based on open source’. What they are using is a closed source version of what used to be an open source product.

‘Based on open source’ products make it impossible for you to switch to the free community edition and have your IT environment run in the exact same way as when you were with the vendor. Again, the vendor will be in control and not the community, as it is with true open source. If you chose closed source databases and applications, and you have an excellent reason to do that: be our guest. But be aware of suspicious vendors. ‘Based on open source’ is a lie, don’t fall for it.

What about Postgres?

Postgres as a database solution is in its core open source and we offer a definite open source and vendor-free version. If you can’t stay with us, no worries, you can switch to the free community edition within a heartbeat. But be aware that other vendors might lock you in, even though they use Postgres at its core. Any additional products and services need to be open source as well, to be able to be truly free.

How can you spot vendor lock-in in your license agreement? Read it in our next article.

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