Reasons to Buy a System Instead of Building One – #2

So you’ve decided you want to add wired Ethernet to your product, and are trying to decide between a module (like the Lantronix XPort family) and a component solution. When considering raw hardware costs, the component solution can have an advantage, providing volume is high enough. When you factor in the other costs, creating your own solution from the ground up is not as favorable as it first appears – even if the software itself is ‘free’ (i.e. Linux). Hardware and software integration, testing, certification, verifying standards compliance, hardening against network attacks, providing for field firmware upgrades, and other chores have substantial impact on hard and soft costs. The price of hiring a contractor, employee, or third-party to do these tasks can easily outweigh any savings a component-level networking solution brings. Not to mention any cost you may incur if you also select a commercial OS and TCP stack, development tools and other one-time and recurring hard costs. Most, if not all of these costs are alleviated with a complete networking module. Some customers have been able to get a prototype going in less than a day with a module.

This begs another question: Are ‘free’ OSes and stacks really free? I feel another blog coming on…