Sustainability of OSS is an important, but often overlooked issue. The private sector is struggling to find the right model to maintain and sustain OSS. The International Development Agencies need viable long-term strategies to sustain the OSS projects they are developing, funding, or using.
Two young colleagues invited me for coffee to discuss their proposal to develop an open source software (OSS) system for administering government programs in developing countries. The idea of replacing costly, custom-built proprietary systems with open-source solutions tailored for specific country requirements was very appealing.
“Why pay millions of dollars for a proprietary solution when an open source system will be free?” exclaimed one of the colleagues.
I inquired cautiously, “Have you considered how to maintain these systems once they are deployed? Who will pay for customization and on-going support to the country clients? How do you consistently ensure the quality of the code?”
“The international OSS community will volunteer their time to maintain and improve these systems.” was the reply.