Vendor Lock In

09 Jun 2018

I hate vendor lock in. It’s terrible.

This is when a software corporation sells their product hard to another corporation. The corporation who bought the software then develops their entire software stack around this, and the seller charges a license fee in perpetuity. The buyer can’t stop using the software, because the cost to switch is impossible. If you want to switch, you have to hire tons of developers to build existing software on another platform.

I really don’t know if there’s a good way to solve this problem. Maybe companies should be obligated by law makers to open source some aspects of their software. Or even standardize all save formats of all software once the category of tools reach critical mass.

Even in the case of UML diagrams, sadly there is no one standard that would allow you to easily convert diagrams from one program to another.

This is ridiculous. It’s kind of scummy. But no one is ever forced to buy someone else’s product. It’s their choice. Yet it’s really hard for a company to determine that the software that they’re buying will solve their problems adequately, and that it will cause them crippling amount of tech debt and tears…

At work we use this tool called Informatica, which is a pretty common ETL tool. But once you start developing on this platform, I think you’re pretty much locked in. You have to keep paying license fees to Informatica for perpetuity if you want to keep you stack running. And some of the stuff in Informatica is real crap. The GUI looks like it’s from the 1990s, and unfortunately there’s no way for our team to scrap this software.

Maybe I’m too inexperienced to know this, I still don’t know why this ETL tool costs so much and requires so much custom servers, repositories, the whole nine years. There’s a list of patents that Informatica has. But Christ, it’s an Export, Transform, Load. It’s not rocket science. At least I wouldn’t think so. Does it really require patented technology to change attribute names and transform integers to Strings? I really don’t know…

The reason I’m complaining is that I’ve been learning Informatica in the past few weeks, and there’s a lot of things that go against my intuition. I’d like to look into alternatives for us to use, but it’s kind of pointless considering that there’s so much to rebuild…

This vendor lock in such bs. At the same time, are there really any other alternatives out there?

If a company decides to open source their systems, them how will they feed their families? There’s a reason why Linux hasn’t taken over mainstream computer usage - it lacks the polish that comes with Windows or Mac. And people are not going to do this for free…

That said, God bless Linux Torvalds.

My thought on this is that open source is the way to go, and that approach to software helps out humanity in the long run. However, we don’t have the economics to back this up. So far, many open source projects and tools are supported by big companies with ulterior economic motives.

For example, in the case of Chrome, it’s not even Google’s main product. Rather, it’s a product that enables Google to easily allow users to use their money making Google Search. To some degree, this could be the same for any open source project run by a company. It’s something that is not important enough to keep hidden, and open sourcing the project drives some agenda, whether that be free publicity, or becoming a leader in how certain frameworks are developed.

One day, maybe we’ll see an awesome ETL tool that is completely open source, slick, and awesome. A tool that doesn’t cripple companies by charging ridiculous fees.