Posts Tagged ‘development’

The REAL truth about open source software (what others do not want you to know)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Open source software is great for the enterprise that is properly staffed. If you want to deploy software, like Nagios for system monitoring you should have hired a real system administrator. If hiring managers are doing his or her job correctly, the enterprise should be properly staffed to develop open source software that meets the organizational requirements.

One area I would look to is the Windows community. Windows has enabled hiring managers to dumb-down his or her department. How much education does a system administrator need to install the operating system (simply press “Next”), update the system (install automatic updates) and add software (simply press “Next”). Windows has dumbed-down the Administrator community, but in all fairness to Windows, their product was requested by upper management in order to reduce staffing requirements.

Upper management is to blame as well. Many information technology executives are trying to meet operational levels in regard to labor costs. This means reducing staff and automating as many processes as possible. Why would they need to hire professionals when they can train any staff person to press Control-Alt-Delete, call the software vendor or press “Next?” However, these managers are missing out on emerging markets because they no longer have the staff to address information technology issues.

Yes, we even need to point the finger at open source developers. The reason why organizations do not implement open source products is three fold:

  1. Lack of support. Management is looking for software that is not only ready-to-go but also includes support agreements. Sorry open source community, but many organizations cannot implement a software solution unless it includes support and liability. You can look towards SOX for a part of this statement.
  2. Open source project lack of development. Many open source projects are here today and gone tomorrow. Take a look at the most popular web server in the business world today, Apache. The Apache foundation has been around for a long time and are constantly upgrading their product.
  3. Open source undisclosed fees. If you are going to have an open source project then the accessories need to be under the agreement. Why would I want to develop an open source product only to find out I have to pay for a pluggin that is required for my enterprise? If it is open source, then keep all the pluggins under the same license and charge for support.

The way I see it, these are the main reasons for open source failing. How can open source reduce these loses? First, stop the community splits and obtain longevity in the field with your software. Second, offer support from the organization and allow the customer to say “NO.” Third, hiring managers need to start thinking strategically and not short term. I do not care what operating system the administrator is hired to support, if he or she cannot script you should only hire them at the Junior level. How many Windows administrators cannot even write a batch script?

I think open source has a bright future. The “experts” that down open source fail to realize that open source drives proprietary software. Where would Active Directory be without open LDAP? Open source software needs to create longevity with their software, even if group member come-and-go. As long as you have one member of the group with direction, continue to develop and promote the software. As long as open source software continues to push-the-envelop proprietary software will need to close the gap. In the end the entire information technology field will benefit.

Mike Kniaziewicz
Masters in Information Systems