Between the two
Without prejudice, I was asked what is the fundamental difference between proprietary GIS and OSS GIS? I replied the key difference was that OSS GIS is free. Next, I was asked how I solve the problem of user support in OSS GIS as in proprietary GIS? I replied that firstly, it does not exist in OSS GIS but users can get it free at forums and mailing list. However, if they were willing to pay for it, they could employ a consultant. So it was debated that OSS GIS is not free after all in the true sense of the word "GIS". I argued that, on the other hand, updates and plugins are perpetually free under OSS GIS and since I could not come to a monetary figure to this, I said let's make that equal. That was a strong argument in favour of OSS GIS so that point was amicably agreed upon. I pointed out the strong points in favour of proprietary GIS is that some specialized modules may be readily available which may not be available under OSS GIS. If such modules were required immediately to carry out a specifc task, then it only justifies to acquire that proprietary GIS, how else does one expect to do the job? If on the other hand, since different users have different needs, if a particular user's GIS requirement can be fulfilled merely by utilizing an OSS GIS, if necessary, importing specific modules from another OSS GIS exemplified by QGIS borrowing from GRASS GIS, then it would be more logical to invest in OSS GIS. From a financial point-of-view, I argue that with the after-sales support issue being contra-ed by the perpetually free updates and free plugins, the proprietary GIS software still had to be purchased. I argued that in the case of OSS GIS that cost could be translated into opportunity gain, for example, in the form of the purchase of 3 desktop computers where if in an office, certain work, up to now, could only be carried out on one computer, could now be shared amongst 3 persons since the office now owns 3 computers. Translate that into office productivity, it implies that work productivity now increased by 300% and the time it took to complete that task would be substantially reduced. Training staff in IT could also improve correspondingly because there are more IT infrastructure. The point I wanted to stress was that to appreciate OSS GIS, comparative benefits between proprietary GIS and OSS GIS must be seen from a more wider perspective or else you lose out on a lot of the benefits that OSS GIS can tag on. It was also pointed out that sometimes proprietary GIS was more preferred because to secure a contract the client demanded a specific proprietary GIS. Yes, true but I argued that it did not stop the firm to recommend to the client how he could make future saving if he too used OSS GIS as it did not impose any cost, I am sure the client would be only to glad to here such advice and that could further strengthen business ties for the future. I said if you force your mind to work only under a specific scenario (proprietary GIS) because you wanted it so, you may eventually lose out in the long run to other competitors when other scenarios (OSS GIS) are so modular and adaptable to change and different situations.
Congratulation SIR. I would definitely chose QGIS as an open source system. Your blog achieve 4586 Visitor already. Thumb up!ReplyDelete
Thank you. One more feather to my QGIS cap! :-DDelete
His perspective about the OSGeo was very interesting and can give support to consultants who want to deploy this technology in their businesses and officesReplyDelete
Thank you very much. I only saw it that way because it seemed to me that hard money earned should be optimally used. Maybe, it because I'm not that rich :-(Delete
Is it got a significance DIFFERENT Between ICT Division & GIS Division? Does it need to form a GIS Division?ReplyDelete
I believe so. The ICT Division is more concerned about ICT infrastructure, its procurement, management and maintenance whereas the GIS Division is more the user of ICT infrastructure and specializes in acquiring information from digital geographical data.Delete
After-sales support only refers to support where a sale was made. In the case of open source GIS, there was never any sale. So let's call it technical support.ReplyDelete
Technical support from software developers could come in many forms. It could be "free", which means it has been factored in the cost of the software you bought. This "free" support period is usually a year, and then you pay extra for continued support, or perhaps switch to a "per-incident" support type, where a client each time time they need help (which is akin to hiring a consultant to get you over a bump.)
Technical support for many open source software comes in the form of manuals/documentation, peer-to-peer support, "per-incident" support from local or virtual consultants.
Another important distinction between open source software
(like QGIS) or public-domain binary software is that it comes with the *right* to the source code. If your enterprise requires has any particular itch to scratch (e.g. the one that justified proprietary software), I often tell them of instead of going proprietary, why don't they "invest" in developing a plugin for that specific task, open source it, and use the open source software for their need. Everyone wins: you get your software made to your liking, the community gets new features.
I hate to say this but, there's no such thing as "free" or "perpetual", even at this context. If a developer dies or loses interest, and there's no community interested in pursuing the development of a project then there goes your free perpetual support. The beauty though is that since it's open source, the code is available and you could hire someone to do the job of developing the code, and contributing back.
Also, if you look closely, there are also free extensions available to proprietary software. It's not always for pay, and they're not that many but they exist.
Anyway, IMHO, the government should always consider open source software over proprietary, except where the requirements in very unique that it's not out there. It's the most prudent way of spending taxpayer's money.
The Malaysian govt supports and has OSS guidelines but when I ask why they do not impose it, the answer was a legacy issue eventhough OSS wins hands down from a cost saving point-of-view. On my part, I am selling the idea that OSS can eradicate piracy and not to look down at OSS until one has at least tried it out because I know when they do, the bait has been taken.Delete