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September 13, 2018

Is Subversion Free?


Many development teams use Subversion (SVN). But what is the SVN price?

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Is Subversion Free?

Subversion is free — technically. 

After all, it’s an open source tool. But free doesn’t come without setbacks. Using SVN often leads to losses in productivity and high administrative costs.

The primary culprit? Poor merging and branching features. Some companies shell out more than $50,000 annually to reconcile bad check-ins.

But merging isn’t the only drain on productivity and the bottom line. The lack of an integrated code review tool and poor scalability means increased tooling costs and integration complexity. And inadequate support leads to time-consuming workarounds whenever an issue arises.

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SVN Price: What’s the Real Cost of Subversion?

Cost #1: Time-Consuming Merge Conflicts

Merging code from one branch to another can be painful in SVN, especially if it’s done frequently. Due to inherent merging and branching deficiencies, SVN users often deal with time-consuming merge conflicts.

Inefficient merging can be costly. During a recent SVN to Helix Core migration, Perforce consultants quantified the annual merge operations to determine return on investment.

It turned out the company was spending $54,000 annually due to merge operations.

After Helix Core was implemented, daily merges that took 60 minutes previously are now completed in less than 15 minutes. This simple fix resulted in a 400 percent gain in the team’s productivity. Rather than waiting on merges, the team refocused their time on coding and development activities.

Cost #2: No Integrated Code Review

Code reviews are a cornerstone for quality and continuous improvement throughout the development lifecycle. This is why code review functionality should be an intrinsic part of a version control system.

But SVN has no built-in code review capability. To ensure code is accurate and won’t break the build, SVN users must license a third-party product. This not only leads to increased costs, it creates greater integration complexity.

Cost #3: Expensive Global Development

Development is becoming geographically diverse. Rather than accommodating global teams, SVN stifles remote development. SVN has no built-in caching or replication technology. This means implementations are completely dependent on WAN technology.

As a result, remote teams can fall victim to poor performance when low bandwidth and high latency are present. To streamline global development, administrators have to install expensive third-party solutions, which increases cost and complexity.

Cost #4: Subpar Support

Because SVN is open source, it doesn’t have a dedicated support team. Instead, developers must research and solve their own problems. The inadequate support means it is inefficient and costly whenever an issue arises.

Hidden Path, a video game development company, used SVN before switching to Helix Core and witnessed first-hand SVN’s poor support.

“Subversion support was just Google and tears,” said Michael Austin, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, Hidden Path.

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SVN Price: SVN Is Far From Free

Sure, SVN is free in terms of licensing costs. But its inadequate features come at a very true cost. The cost of developer inefficiency. The cost of operations fixing bugs. The cost of missed releases. And the cost of unhappy customers.

At the end of the day, the costs of using SVN outweigh the "free" SVN pricing. And you'll get a better value by migrating to Helix Core. 

Switch to Helix Core


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