Wednesday, October 04, 2006

open-source a right choice

There are many things which makes the management decision to adopt open-source solutions for their IT Needs. The nature of Open-Source model applications are fast, robust, flexible and source code is available free of cost. This is possible because the thoughts behind a open-source development is infinite and many people around the globe contribute their ideas and approaches for the development and design of the project. Though there is no support promised by the License or the people involved in developing those products, but it is proven in many cases that the applications are well build.

Is that the reason for choosing open-source in an organization? Nope in fact it adds a greater risk to an organization to choose open-source product for the enterprise usage. A profit making organization’s core process is around the areas of IT. If the organization depends on an IT product which is not owned by anybody or not carrying a tag that says we will support if there is a crisis, it always makes point to go negative. Still how could many organizations sail towards their open-source venture now a day? What makes them to think open-source product can bring their company a fortune? The answer for many questions like above is follows in my post here.

I hope, After reading my post you will decide either you need or don’t need an open-source product to your organization

Being a open-source product basically free or freedom to use, which means you can use it freely [not only the cost] and flexibly. Deploy those products in as many as CPUs you can buy and use it with as many as people in and outside your organization. This point straight makes a note of cutting CPU based, User based and Workstation based license cost to ‘0’. Look at the figure it is ‘0’. We used to normally pay 30%-40% of the total turnover of the organization year after year for procurement of those licenses. Also keeping an eye on the products updates and paying money as soon as the vendor states the product which we bought becomes end-of-life.

Don’t you notice the word end-of-life in the above paragraph, is it only for the license cost no. Look at it carefully it is actually tagged for the users to announce that the support for those products have been stopped by the vendor. Hence if you continue to use the product in your organization after it has been announced as end-of-life you are in a task. If any problem occurs on the software you will seek help from nobody as only the vendor got control of the software. Is it not a harmful issue to any organization? Now, where is the commercial support or promised support goes? Okay we are ready to pay the extra money let us try buying the new product, will it happen in this way? No, again you are in a loop, you can pay the extra money and buy because if a product is announced end-of-life, then there is no update for extra money. You need to re-buy the software with new version. Not only the software again the support subscription. This is where the key issue the organizations are facing, once decided to use a commercial product invariably the organization agreed to pay a huge amount year after year to the product vendor. Some times it eats up the entire organizations profit.

What if I choose to use an Open-source? A Good question, though we talk about open source fundamentals many articles, what exactly pays me while I use open-source. The core is that when you don’t need to allot a huge amount on your yearly budget for software licenses your finance planning is healthy looking at other issues of your organization. Your dept are cleared or less while comparing open-source and commercial products. Is that all? No, you always have support for the massive user/developer community around the world. Many people use, share and re-fine the product and its features. You never get stuck getting a support for open-source. Believe me I get more support for software from open-source community than the commercial vendor. When you use a older version and having problem with the new platform your approach to open-source community returns “why you don’t try this option to get this problem solved” while commercial vendors says “Sorry, this is product is not supported by us anymore, please upgrade to new version"

I guess my article covers the phrases like “Return on Investment” [ROI] and Total Cost of Ownership [TCO] with a simple understandable and meaningful explanations. You get to invest 0 to get an open-source makes 0 TCO, at the same time having implemented and running for long duration with need to re-install or re-deploy a new version which makes lots of process planning, effort and out flow of money is controlled and your ROI is on the higher side.

Guilty, if I’m not talking about the man power requirements for deploying/administrating the open-source/commercial products. Yes, in many cases hiring a skilled professional for both the systems are equal. Hence no advantage though you get more benefits and knowledge share while using a open-source product.

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