DataRebelz is really passionate about open source. Not because it's less expensive or we fanatically believe in the free software cause... But simply because we want to make the best products. Open source solutions deliver the best value proposition compared to SaaS or proprietary software.
As a startup, we wouldn't even exist without the advantage of open source software. If we had to build our whole stack from scratch, it would take us 5 to 10 years of active development with a big team.
The alternative to spending ridiculous amounts of money on a large development team is spending that same money on software. Which was a no-go as a bootstrapped company.
A modern alternative approach would be using SaaS: you can start today, without setup cost and you can scale it whenever your business does. All the previous statements are correct, except for the scaling part. On a technical level SaaS scales, but on a financial level it doesn't. You trade your scalable profits for convenience. So in the end, you will be cutting your profit margin.
That’s why we chose to use open core software; these are software solutions which are open source at the core, but have a proprietary layer on the outside for monetisation. In a nutshell: you have a feature-limited free community version and a paying-enterprise edition, with extra features and SLA's.
From a business perspective, this makes sense. You can start with the free version and when your business scales, you can opt-in for the enterprise edition if you need the features. For example, a typical enterprise feature is clustering, something you will only need when you hit a critical mass.
Stand on the shoulders of giants.
The essential part of open core software is that you hit the ground running. With no significant upfront investments, you can easily do a proof of concept tomorrow. Want to test out if its a fit for your company? Just deploy the solution and see, no strings attached. This speed is also a vital part of our startup DNA at DataRebelz. As a young company, we have to be flexible and move fast. With open source, we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Another advantage of this open-source path is that you can prevent cloud supplier lock-in. We take cloud independence very seriously and make sure we can switch cloud environments when needed. We don't want to depend on one cloud provider who can hold us hostage in the future.
In the end, the essential benefit of open-source is not that is "free" but that is open. You can change the code any way you want it and make it fit your project. Do you like to improve some parts? Just fix them and give them back to the community.
Open source is not a communist ideal where we share everything. It's a communal strive to build better software and products. By working on the work of a thousand other developers, we can deliver a quality level that was not possible on our own. By going the open-source way, we can make affordable software that fits the need of the client.
The open source projects we use and love at DataRebelz:
Terraform, infrastructure as code.
InfluxDB, an open source time series database.
ElasticSearch, a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine.
Balena the docker driven IoT fleet management tool.
Kafka a horizontally scalable, fault-tolerant, wicked fast streaming application.