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The Hidden Cost of Open Source

Why you can't afford free

When building an application, often the most important technical decisions come down to what to build yourself, and where to rely on third parties. Thanks to a vibrant open source ecosystem, modern teams can focus on delivering features that delight users and differentiate their product, relying on third parties for the boring, boilerplate parts of their application.

Once you’ve decided to adopt an open source standard for a mission critical part of your app, you still have a major decision to make: 

Do you want to adopt something free, and rely on your wits and a community of volunteers to support you? Or are you willing to pay a partner to help ensure your success?

You may be tempted to go with “free”, and in some cases it does make sense, especially for smaller, well-constrained problems. But in many cases, “free” comes with a big asterisk. 

This paper discusses the hidden costs of free software.