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Why is technology so expensive?
Our Sales & Marketing Director, Simone Zanotti, talked about that in a podcast, that you can find here in Italian.
There are many reasons why the costs of technology are so high, surely one depends on the perception and evaluation of the technology itself.
This happens, for example, with software, which is by nature made of code and, if we simply look at the meaning of the word “code”, it is a set of conventions and semantic rules, reserved only for professionals.
This is true for any programming language. Being a code understandable only to those who have the skills, it is difficult for others to value it. It is an intangible product, so it’s really difficult to assess its value.
A software can be replicated n times, tending to infinity. Once a company has produced a software, that is perfectly up and running, it is possible, then, to replicate and sell it n times. All replicas could therefore be perceived as a total margin, because the actual development work is done only once.
Indeed, maintaining a software it’s not a simple thing, since there are always further activites of development, bug fixing etc… all these factors combine to determine the final price of a solution in which the software part is predominant. Unfortunately, even in the history of information technology, many companies have made a fortune riding the software wave, with low maintenance costs. For a long time, there has been a phenomenon of software piracy, although today it has greatly reduced.
At E4, therefore, we build our solutions using open source software, freely accessible and downloadable from the community, where we have carried out integration activities between the components, improvement and above all simplification in the adoption of the configuration. We wanted to lower the entry step to these solutions. Our income is not linked to the software, but to the support and maintenance of the solutions that are then proposed with a level 3 subscription contract. Our customers can therefore request support, have access to the released updates and we intervene in case of bug detection.
In this way E4 manages to keep costs at a reasonable level, making its solutions accessible even to those who are not able to understand the complexity of a code.
Among the opens ource software chosen by E4, there are OpenStack or Kubernetes, which have a large number of contributions worldwide. They are projects with their own release cycle that are enriched from version to version. E4 takes the stable versions of those projects and adds components that compensate for the complexity gap at the time of adoption.
At E4, then, we start from excellent open source projects with solid foundations and very well engineered. We assemble them, in order to create default versions for the different needs of our customers.
So, opensource software cuts costs? And if so, how does it do it?
Yes, it cuts them down, because there is no one who claims royalties on the code.
In terms of quality, what is the difference between opensource software and commercial software?
The technologies underlying our solutions are supported by a huge number of community-level contributors. On a very technical level, too. In an open source software, like OpenStack, for example, there is always a scrupulous code cleanup, that doesn’t even exist in commercial software, since about 40,000 people around the world work on that code and contribute to improve it. Each piece of code is then checked for operation thousands of times by thousands of competent people.
With proprietary software the situation is different because there are many limits, for example, deadlines within which the product must be released and so on.
Moreover, the diversity of people who contribute to an open source community is therefore a great advantage, compared to the homogeneity found in groups of developers inside the same company.
This is the polarization phenomenon, that is the risk of creating bubbles where people deal only with those who think like them. Outside those bubbles you can no longer accept different points of view. This often happens in social media and also happens to those who develop technology.
We will explore this last topic in the next interview… so, stay tuned!
If you want to listen to the (Italian) podcast, please go here!