Forget the FUD, Focus on Value

Computer World UK published a great article recently on the myths being propagated against open source software. The key myths that proprietary solutions use to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) are:

Support
Myth: There is no support. Do you want to rely on forums.
Fact: Commercial open source offers commercial Service Level Agreements.

Cost
Myth: It costs more really.
Reality: Supported open source is typically a tenth of the cost of traditional enterprise software. See my previous post on cost. The US Government GSA site can be used to compare proprietary and open source costs.

Applications
Myth: You will have to throw out your applications and move to a LAMP stack.
Reality: To thrive in an enterprise open source needs to work well in an enterprise stack. It works equally well with Oracle or MySQL, BEA or JBoss, Windows or Linux.

Risky
Myth: It’s too risky.
Reality: In a way open source is far less risky that traditional enterprise software purchases. Commercial open source has similar source code control to enterprise software companies. With open source the customer is in control of the evaluation. The customer can, in their own time, on their own infrastructure, with their own people, download, install and evaluate the software. Then if they want commercial support they can request it in their own time period, when they need it, on an annualized basis, out of operating expenditure.

Contrast this to a typical enterprise software evaluation where a pre-sales engineer demonstrates the software on his own machine. A consultant installs it and controls the proof of concept. Then an enterprise salesman drives a million dollar plus 5 year upfront license payment (capital expenditure) with a timescale driven by the enterprise software companies end of quarter. And then there is the annual maintenance. Therein lies the risk – expensive shelf-ware.

Buy More and Save = Long Term Commercial Lock-In + No CAP on Future Support and Maintenance.

Buy More and Save = Enterprise Risk on What Will your Annual Support and Maintenance be when the License Term Expires.

Enterprise
Myth: It’s not fit for the enterprise.
Reality: Look at the data centres of major financial services organizations. Look at major Government initiatives. Look at the internet. What you will find in common is open source at the core of critical applications and infrastructure.

As always, the key to evaluating software should be focused on the features it offers, it’s adaptability over time, the value for money and how easy it is to use. If software is not saving you money and simplifying your life, then what is the point? As I have said before, open source is not inherently better software…it is simply an inherently better way to build and distribute software. The open soruce model allows us to build better software at lower cost, which means organizations no longer have to write five and six figure checks just to get off the ground.

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