GitHub Introduces Unlimited Private Repositories – But There’s Bad News For Some Companies

Unlimited Private RepositoriesGitHub has introduced new pricing policies that are great news for some developers, and very bad news for others, particularly web development agencies and projects that have a lot of collaborators.

GitHub has always been free to developers who are happy to use public repositories, a policy that has seen GitHub become the de facto standard for open source version control. If you needed a private repository, you paid a relatively small monthly subscription, for which you got several private repositories. If you wanted more private repositories, you paid a little more.

GitHub recently announced that it is moving away from payments based on the number of repositories. For small organizations with a few developers, that’s great news. They can have as many private repositories as they like for a flat fee, and that’s how GitHub has chosen to present the change — a big win for companies who use a lot of private repositories.

However, there’s a fly in the ointment. Instead of paying for repositories, organizations now pay for each user who contributes. That might not seem onerous, but many companies who use private repositories are extremely unhappy.

Consider a fairly small web development agency with eight developers and ongoing contracts with a dozen clients. Paying the fees for their developers isn’t a problem, but what about their clients? Many clients expect access to the repositories being used to host their code — that can include the company CEO, various managers, internal web development teams, marketing and sales staff, and several others. Each collaborator now incurs a cost. So, if an average of five people outside of the company require access to a repository for each project, that’s 68 monthly payments the company has to make. The first five cost $25 and the rest cost $9 per month each — a total cost of $592. That’s a massive increase on what our development agency would have previously been paying for their 12 private repositories.

At the moment, GitHub says it has no immediate plans to force users to make the transition to the new hosting plans, but it’s likely they’ll mandate the transition after 12 months.

As you can imagine, some organizations are dismayed with a change that has the potential to generate thousands of dollars in extra costs.

This has almost quadrupled our monthly cost ($850 vs $2914). We have ~300 users which will have to be reduced massively to save costs – perhaps with non-engineers sharing accounts or having no access at all. I’m not sure if charging per user is really in the spirit of open collaboration that GitHub champions.

Future Hosting’s virtual private server hosting plans are an excellent alternative to SaaS version control platforms like GitHub — clients are free to install the open source versions control system of their choice, and we won’t be asking for per user or per repository payments.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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