- If our website uses HTML/CSS, we are dependent on the World-Wide Web Consortium.
- If our website uses PHP, we are dependent on The PHP Group.
- If our website uses Red Hat Linux, we are dependent on Red Hat, Inc..
- If our website uses Apache, we are dependent on The Apache Software Foundation.
- If our organization uses MySQL, we are dependent on Oracle Corp.
This is a very short list and it does not list all the dependencies for each tool, but it does illustrate the point – we are dependent on the creators and suppliers of the tools we use (including tools that are incorporated into other tools in a dependency hierarchy).
Effects of Dependence
Training – Updates may change the interface or functionality of the tool, which means our people will need to be retrained. “Our people” obviously includes those who provide content or initiate transactions, but also includes our end users and our technical specialists. Ideally, training should occur before we update the tool.
Loss of Control – Performance, security, confidentiality, and scalability may be important to us, but if the tool provider does not share our concern to the same degree, it may only pay lip service to these requirements or may provide limited functionality.
Sudden Loss of Supplier – If a supplier disappears (e.g., bankruptcy, loss of community support), the impact can be sudden and severe, or merely a nuisance. Measure the impact on this scale:
- Immediate Loss of Functionality – As the supplier disappears, so does its website. If the tool won’t run without that website, we lose use of the tool immediately and our website no longer works properly.
- No More Modifications – The tool does not require the supplier’s website, but the tool cannot be modified or updated because we do not have the source code or permission to modify it. [This is one reason open-source software is gaining popularity over closed-source.]
- No More Updates – We have the source code and permission to modify it, but we must make the changes ourselves. As long as it’s working the way we want, we’re okay, but we won’t be receiving any more updates.
- No Impact – The tool works and we require no change to it, even in the long run.