RTTS tests and monitors mission-critical applications to help companies prevent failures that could shut down operations. To do that, it combines open source tools with its own custom-developed interface and offers a software-as-a-service solution that proves the adage "necessity is the mother of invention."
Bill Hayduk, founder and CEO of RTTS, says of open source software, "In the late '90s, a lot of the stuff out there was kind of clunky and not mature." By the turn of the century, though, "as it became more mature and adaptable, we started adopting a significant amount of it. Then, when everyone was sweating just to keep their heads above water, we found small and medium-sized businesses that were building Web-based software that needed to be performance-tested -- but they didn't want to pay someone hundreds of thousands of dollars." Hayduk came upon JMeter, Apache's Java-based load-testing application. "We wrapped our service around this tool, and found that we could test our clients' software at a fixed price. It helped us get through the recession."
Hayduk says his biggest beef with open source is the "iffy documentation for installation and tuning of the software and modifying it; and there's limited training. Some vendors offer training, but otherwise, you're on your own. We had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to install the tools. We put together our own documentation and taught ourselves to use it."
For Hayduk, the benefits of open source software outweighed any challenges. "It's free," he says. "It's gotten a lot more mature in the last couple of years, especially the projects that have a large community behind them. And there's greater adaptability, and it is very easy to find people who know how to use it. Young people in college have gone to open source instead of traditional enterprise software.
"It has been very beneficial for us. We're a medium-sized business and we don't need to spend significant amounts of money on commercial software. And we don't have to."
Hayduk says when planning to build a business on open source, it is prudent to plan. "Put together a matrix of costs and benefits. The software is free, but the cost of support is going to be higher than something with built-in maintenance. You've got to decide if the support mechanism is there. In every instance, does open source work or is it the cheapest solution? Absolutely not. For all our desktops, we're still using Microsoft because we can all support our own desktop. You have to weigh and decide whether it makes sense or not."