A recent comment on my blog pointed out the fact that many companies today are moving to free (or open source) tools. I feel it deserves a post.
My mother used to say that those who try to save a buck always end up paying twice. I'm not saying that there's no future for free/open-source products. I'm a huge fan. I'm using them as much as I can. However, one must realize when the saving is actually causing too much time loss to actually make this worth the money being saved.
The original comment was that their company was using MyEclipse IDE for JSF development and they have recently decided to move to Eclipse Web Tools Platform as their main tool for JSF development. I have nothing but utmost respect to my colleagues at MyEclipse. I will be very satisfied if I can get to their growth rate. However, a lot of the tools in MyEclipse are based on basic open source tools, so I'm not surprised you found WTP to be enough for your needs (or even better).
On the opposite side, I can personally recommend BEA Workshop for JSF (I worked with their Struts version). True, it costs $500. But, once you use it, you will understand where the extra $500 went. It's not a little better, it is just so much better, that it will do much more and it will save you the extra time. It's called ROI, and it's a factor which is does not convince many people these days, as it is usually hard to prove.
More examples that we can all relate to. Is your company running their workstations with Linux or Windows? Assuming you are paying for your licenses, Windows is expensive. However, it still delivers lower TCO and makes it worth it (although this may change in the near future).
Are you using Outlook with Exchange server? It's an expensive package. Why not use simple POP mail server with an open-source solutions like Thunderbird and Lightning for managing your mail and calendar? Because Outlook and Exchange can do it better. It's worth it.
Are you using Microsoft Office? Why not use OpenOffice? Since I've bought a Mac, I've been using NeoOffice, which is a version of OpenOffice for Mac OS X. Mostly because Microsoft Office for Mac has no Hebrew support. OK, I'll admit it: it's a mixed feeling. It does the job in most cases with occasional problems when opening MS Office documents. But the interface is just annoying and it is a heavy software. Overall, I'm not sure saving the $300 on MS Office is worth it.
Again, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all free products are bad. I'm just saying that the total price is not the price tag associated with the product, but rather a combination of several factors including the TCO and the time you save or waste (which is usually very difficult measure).
One last example involves our managers with their fancy Blackberry devices. The Blackberry is expensive. The service is expensive (it has a dedicated server which costs). Using the cellular network to transfer data is expensive. But it saves time. Time is money. Hence, it's worth it. So, go to your manager and tell her/him that your time is expensive as well.