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Options for Technical Support When Using Open Source Software

Open source software (OSS) like TYPO3 CMS comes with the liberty to make the software deliver on the parameters you want. And being both open (as in an act of liberation) and free (as in free kittens), open source software has had a massive impact on the digital world as a whole, including the business world.

Today, most businesses and government systems use some open source components.

But building a website on OSS doesn’t mean a website is free of cost. Today, the major expense for any software is its implementation, its maintenance and its ongoing support. This investment needs to be seen in the context of the economic benefits that will flow from the customization of the website. And this investment needs protection.

Options for technical support when using open source software (OSS)

One of the most persistent myths surrounding open source software is that there's no easy way to get good support. Maybe you’re considering opting for an OSS system and investing in having it customized to meet your needs. And maybe you’re unsure whether you’ll get the same support that a paid software would have. Let’s take a closer look at the different levels of support you can leverage for typical open source projects.

3 levels of support

Say you’re considering implementing your website with an open source content management system (CMS). Most OSS CMS will have the following support options:

  1. Free support through the community
    (via chat, forum or mailing lists)

  2. Paid commercial support
    (via consultants and partners)

       3. Service Level Agreements (SLA)
           (for the system and its add-ons, e.g. plugins, extensions, modules)

1. Free support

There’s a community behind every OSS. And underlying most OSS systems there’s a world of free community support, available for taking. Check the website of the system to find out exactly what options you have.

Typically, there’ll be a mix of chat and forum-like support options. The chats are a good tool for quick questions, for connecting with the community in general and for generally staying up-to-date. The biggest advantage of a chat is that it’s instantaneous. TYPO3 uses Slack as a team collaboration tool.

Keep in mind that people are supporting you for free. While the open source community is good at responding to issues quickly, no one is legally obligated to help you.

2. Paid commercial support

Major open source software systems that a business might use will usually come with option of paid commercial support. There’ll be support and maintenance services - at a cost. Here again: check the website of the system to find out exactly what options you have.

In addition, there are also all those commercial partners out there, ready and willing to help your company through any software snags that might arise. There are lots of good reasons for requesting support from commercial partners:

  • you haven’t got an answer to your question from free support

  • you need a quicker option than waiting for free support

  • you don’t want to or are not allowed to take your problems public

In these cases, look at partner listings on your system’s website. And if you’re aiming at establishing a long-term business relationship, take the time to select the right partner. The right partner should not only be able to solve your current problem but should also know the industry you’re in and the challenges you’re solving for your customers.

A note on the side: Free software plus paid support does not exceed the price of paid software plus paid support. It's just math.

Professional support options usually come in different forms. You can contract a freelancer to solve your problem, commission an agency or hire a developer in your company. Ideally your software eco system allows you to find all three directly. if you’re using TYPO3 CMS there are a whole lot of agencies and freelancers specialized in this specific content management system who can be hired to get things sorted out. Check out this listing for details.

3. Vendor Support: Service Level Agreements (SLA)

A third option for support is direct vendor support - often in the form of an SLA. A SLA is an agreement between the client and vendor that defines responsibilities, services and priorities for the engagement. Service Level Agreements ensure you have a personal contact in case you have problems with the software itself.

Your development partner usually only provides SLAs, support and guarantees for their part of the development effort, not for the system underneath. Having a vendor SLA in place gives you and your partner a safety net - and ensures you don’t spend too much time on searching and qualifying bugs that ultimately reside outside of your project's scope.

The best way to guard against software failure is opting for an SLA.

We are proud to be able to offer TYPO3 Service Level Agreements (SLA) for businesses - an official option for securing the value of your website! Being a formal document, SLAs are often defined in formal language and complicated definitions.

Our SLA is fairly simple (and yes, I can gladly write it up for you in official language):

  • Software can fail. If vulnerabilities show up in the TYPO3 core, we’ll fix them for you.

  • We have 5 different packages ranging from troubleshooting within 48 hours to support within 4 hours 7 days a week 24 hours a day.

  • Two of our packages include the option of having a personal account manager.

  • TYPO3 SLA provides you with online, telephone and email support in addition to other deliverables.

  • Depending on which SLA package you choose we’re able to guarantee a response time as quick as 4 hours.

Engaging with TYPO3 GmbH on a Service Level Agreement makes your business more effective as it ensures a maximum uptime for your website. The risk of business failure or productivity losses are transferred from your business to us with a fixed-cost solution.

No website is going to last you forever. Gain peace of mind by keeping yours safe until you’re ready to take the next step!


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