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Zero G: Reinvent the Wheel or Buy a Proven Solution
Zero G: Reinvent the Wheel or Buy a Proven Solution

www.zerog.com

Framing a New Decision with the Old Criteria
Since the Industrial Revolution made mass production a mass proposition, the recurring question of whether to buy or to build the technology of the day has remained almost identical. Is it better to buy pre-built technology, or develop it yourself from scratch? Even a casual observer can tell you that the debate is no closer to resolution today than it was a hundred years ago.

This question is even more challenging when the decision involves buying or building advanced technology such as software installation and deployment tools. With deployment tools, while each software developer is likely to view the decision-making criteria differently, the make-or-break issue is always the same: your product's first impression-the installation-is a crucial moment for the success of both you and your users.

Regardless of whether you decide to buy or build a software deployment solution, your company will have to successfully frame the criteria for selection. Despite the complexity of the technology, this is not as difficult as it may sound.

Framing the Decision
To remain competitive, companies must stay on the cutting edge of evolving technologies and changing business needs. This is especially true with a software deployment solution.

But you're likely to raise a few eyebrows among software developers if you tell them that their decision to buy or build a software deployment tool is not much different than it was when Farmer John bought a wagon wheel.

Yet the buy-or-build decision typically incorporates factors that are generally consistent. It boils down to time-to-market, cost savings, core competencies, and achieving a custom fit. By focusing on this framework, you can ensure that your software acquisition remains aligned with your business needs.

Roland Racko, a veteran software consultant and writer, explained in a recent head-to-head evaluation of the top three installers that successful deployment always starts with selecting the right solution. InstallAnywhere from Zero G Software came out on top by a wide margin. It's not so difficult to understand how Racko came to his conclusions when you consider the framework of a traditional buy-or-build decision (see Table 1).

When each factor is taken into account, the advantages of purchasing InstallAnywhere are compelling. Beyond significant advantages in regard to real cost, InstallAnywhere offers important benefits in terms of time-to-market and allows software developers to focus on their core mission. It is only in terms of custom fit that there is generally less distinction, since InstallAnywhere can create customized installers that are virtually indistinguishable from homegrown solutions.

Time-to-Market
Building your own deployment solution always means longer time to market. To that end, time-to-market is often the first and most important factor that a company considers when making the buy-or-build decision. If time-to-market is a concern in your development process-and it most likely is-purchasing InstallAnywhere will yield results faster than building from scratch.

Cost Savings
What are the costs associated with buying versus building? Does the benefit of building justify the cost, especially when a mature solution such as InstallAnywhere is available? No one knows for certain, since no value measure can be one-size-fits-all.

With most companies the dollar value can easily be measured by the cost of development. But companies usually underestimate the maintenance costs of internally developed solutions. A software developer must dedicate tens of thousands of dollars more for ongoing maintenance and development than it would if it were to buy InstallAnywhere out-of-the-box.

Core Competencies
The choice to build often entails more 'building' than one may realize. Zero G has spent more than 100 man-years of combined product development effort delivering InstallAnywhere. It can be an unpleasant surprise to learn that you, too, will dedicate thousands of man-hours to your development pursuit-unfortunately, most companies don't realize this until they are beyond the point of return. The less you want to build a core competency in deployment technologies, the more likely you are to buy InstallAnywhere.

Custom Fit
In the past, getting a custom fit meant being trapped between unlimited flexibility at high cost, and narrower flexibility at lower cost. This is no longer the case since InstallAnywhere builds installers that are totally integrated for standard or custom configurations, and is perfect for multi-component suites. Unless you are gaining a competitive advantage by building your own deployment solution, you should not endeavor to build your own installation software.

www.zerog.com

About IT Solutions Guide
IT Solutions Guide (ITSG), aimed at development and corporate managers, is a free quarterly supplement focusing on the most competitive tools, solutions, and services available in the IT and infrastructure technology world today.

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