Should we ditch .net for open source?

I’m a .net guy and love programming in c#. It’s rare for me to look at other programming languages because I tend to stick to because I can easily get a project off the grounds as I know pretty much the inside outs of the syntax etc. I can code in php as well but I never really liked it as I get more control in .net. From a developer’s point of view, coding in the latest technology is the best way to stay motivated and learn the new stuff. That’s what we want cutting edge technology! However from a business perspective, it’s a different story. For the business, profit is what dictates its strategy. If there are no real benefit to using a certain technology, then most likely it’s not going to be adopted.

For a small company, microsoft products can be quite expensive. For easy programming in .net, you really need to have Visual Studio. Of course you need IIS as your web server and many .net programmers will want Microsoft SQL Server as well. This is all good but the costs of these things can amount to a lot. So you small business owners ditch .net for open source technologies? Well that really depends on the situation. Apache is a good webserver and is free as well as MySql. The standard approach is to use PHP to develop the website and host it on a linux box which is considerably cheaper than having to pay the licence for Windows Server (2008) and getting Microsoft SQL Server 2005/2008. With the Windows Server, you get IIS as your web server to run your website but you still need a database. MS SQL Server is very expensive, it costs pretty much the same as a dedicated server.

When I was looking at a dedicated Windows Server, you have to pay £99 per month for the server, £25 a month for Windows 2008 Standard Edition (the licence fees) and £99 for Microsoft SQL Server 2005/2008 Standard Edition (the licence fees). Now these are significant costs as you end up paying £223 per month for a .net site compared to £99 a month for a site done in PHP running on Apache with a MySql database.

When I thought about the costs involved, I wantet to switch to open source technologies so that I don’t end up paying so much money for my websites. I was looking into Django as it claims to make website designing quicker and better but after my extensive research, I came to the conclusion that it was not really worth it. As I explained in the post on DJango, there are a lot of things to consider before making such a decision. For example, putting aside the differences in programming syntax for Django (python) vs, I conclude that it’s going to take me more time to deploy a website using Django because of various configuration needed at the server level. I think that an IDE is really important when programming. Take Visual Studio for instance, you have intellisense which makes it quicker for you to code. You can go to a method’s definition to see what’s happening there and have debugging facility as well. You can write unit tests to see whether things are working as expected. You get to compile your website and see errors beforehand. I’m probably biased but I think I’ve got more control with .net than the open source languages.

There are a lot of advantages when programming in and it is a true object oriented programming language (C#). However I still find that Microsoft SQL Server is very expensive. I wouldn’t change C# as my main coding language but I’ll definitely look into an open source database like MySql or postgresql. The reasoning behind this is very simple; I do not need the special capabilities of MS SQL Server at the moment, I simply need it as a storage engine. I use nHibernate for the database abstraction and that makes it even easier to switch to another data store. At the end of the day, you have to pay to get a good product with all the facilities that you want. Just like you pay for MySql if you want their extended support, you need to pay Microsoft for using their technology!

1 Response

  1. bro mak April 18, 2011 / 2:01 am

    you know I use apache, linux, php, some pearl stuff and mysql on my website(s) and have for years.
    it is cheap. works great most of the time and every body does it.
    hence the drawbacks: on a server that is shared, you have messy people doing cheap junk and breaking the server items: mysql, the mail sserver, php script functions have to be turned off to block abuse and if one of the other people sharing your server is dumping junk into the main apache system, everybody on the server goes down while they reconstruct the server. and it is easy to do for them, so a server that crashes may only be down for a few minutes… but it is irritating.

    cheap and easy opens it up to the sleazy… my saying.
    still, though I admire the proprietary systems and solutions, I have not the $$$ to buy them.
    IF you can afford one while you continue to dabble in the open source items… you should.
    But don’t ever let go of those proprietary skills you have or the income they can bring in.

    since you seemed open to the question, from a guy who has open sourced for about 15 years.
    By the way, I don’t remember what it was, but it was an opensource problem I had a few weeks back… and your blog had a useful insight. Perhaps is was one of those messier query situations.

    Regardless, thank you for being so open about .net, C# and the whole proprietary world, the rest of us can’t yet afford!

    Grace Always.
    bro. mak

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