A software escrow provider has reported a 150% increase in source code releases in 2009, compared with 2008. NCC Group said businesses’ relationships with software suppliers have been strained by recessionary pressures. Software escrow is the holding by a third party of the crucial, and secret, source code that underpins a piece …
Cost/Hassle of Escrow...
If companies are (rightfully) bothered about retaining access to sourcecode if the original supplier goes bust, why don't they put more pressure on closed source vendors or move more towards open source software?
The vast majority of closed source software bought by businesses has no comeback whatsoever if the original supplier goes bust, and with large companies like banks going bankrupt, and the history of big bankruptcies in the tech industry, you'd be foolish to blindly trust closed source software even from big vendors like MS, Oracle or IBM etc.
It's simply one more question to go on your tender document. Most large software vendors should already have such an arrangement in place, so any additional cost ought to be minimal.
Open source is an alternative solution, but I doubt there are many large organisations for which it can meet every need.
Escrow and the application of force
Some of the escrow agreements proposed by the big multinationals are designed not only to cover them if a supplier goes under but to make it easy/cheap to make a supplier fail in hard times giving thme the product for free,
Escrow is a good idea but unless you are really really carefull, a large customer *will* try and force you out of business to get thier hands on your code.
Also, If the police can get away with stealing peoples software why can''t others?
I could have used this, a few years back.
First of all, open source doesn't work for large scale custom development because there's nothing out there to satisfy the requirements. Secondly, the cost model for the developers often requires that they will try to find more customers to make back their money after the first sale. Open-sourcing the code removes that revenue stream.
You have to ask how much value is in the source code alone though. Any system of reasonable complexity would require more than just source code, unless they have been very diligent in code comments (which most developers are not). Also, if the company had a staff capable of understanding the source code, why didn't they just build it themselves?
If a software vendor were to go bust and a client company was given their source, they could hire a consultant(s) to read/document/re-code the applications internals if it was absolutely necessary.
As for why the company wouldn't make their own app, it could be a staffing issue. I work for a small company as a network administrator, but I'm a coder by passion & education. I could easily understand the code of some of our LOB apps, but there's no way I would have the time to build anything to that scale whilst I have all my other responsibilities.