All Software Architecture, All the Time
June 10-13, 2019
San Jose, CA
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Free as in puppies: Toward a better build-versus-buy understanding

Heidi Waterhouse (LaunchDarkly)
3:55pm–4:40pm Thursday, June 13, 2019
Secondary topics:  Anti-Pattern, Best Practice, Overview
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Who is this presentation for?

  • Software architects and engineering managers



What you'll learn

  • Learn how to calculate cost of homegrown solutions


A free puppy, like a white elephant, is a gift that takes a lot of time, energy, and money. When we build an internal tool ourselves, we don’t have to justify it to the Financial Department the same way, but the lack of a bill doesn’t make something free. The FLOSS community talks about freedom as an intellectual property right. The digital generation assumes that software without a charge is selling their information. Let’s talk about the other kind of free—the kind where you’re just not clear on how much you’re paying for something because it’s an internal tool.

When we make a build-versus-buy calculation, it’s easy to miss several important parts of the calculation, including maintenance, updating, security, availability, and finding operators. None of those are easy to articulate or value for either side. To help argue a decision for cultural change and/or spending money on tools, Heidi Waterhouse walks you through several examples that illustrate why business value is more than money. You’ll leave with a set of questions to ask about quality, cost, and long-term use.

Photo of Heidi Waterhouse

Heidi Waterhouse


Heidi Waterhouse is a developer advocate with LaunchDarkly. She delights in working at the intersection of usability, risk reduction, and cutting-edge technology. One of her favorite hobbies is talking to developers about things they already knew but had never thought of that way before. She sews all her conference dresses so that she’s sure there is a pocket for the mic.