The Cost of OpenID

I was chatting with a friend today about implementing OpenID for a possible startup idea, and we talked about the cost of OpenID vs its benefits.

The conclusion of the chat was that if you’re a bootstrapped startup, it almost never makes sense to spend the time and money implementing an authentication system.

Don’t take my word for it, look at the numbers.

Let’s say the average Software developer in your area makes just $65,000 a year (or $34 per hour)*. If they build their own authenication system from the ground up, you could look at between 80 and 120 hours worth of time spent on it (given a 60% productivity rate, that comes out to 72 hours spent on the project, or $4080 spent on programming this one part of the system.  That’s a conservative estimate.  There are many ways to do authentication; and everyone gets it wrong sometimes.

What’s the cost of implementing OpenID? 5 hours worth of initial work and $500 at most? If you went with the ‘Plus’ option, it’s only $100 per year — that’s a savings of almost $3800!

That’s $3800 that could be used for far more important things than building an authentication system, and it’s one less part of the system you have to maintain in the future — which represents an immeasurable cost savings towards other projects.

In most cases, the cost doesn’t justify the benefit of rolling your own system. Let someone else take care of it.

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