Open Source is Coming of Age

It wasn’t so long ago that proprietary solutions such as UNIX and Windows ruled the land but now more and more critical systems are being run by open source software.

One of the main reasons to look at open source software (OSS) is the cost factor.

When you realize the cost is significantly less and yet the software performs as well as, if not better than the more costly software, the decision becomes easier to make. Your TCO will not lie when implementing an open source software solution. You will save loads of money on software that will function properly.

Another factor would be frustration with your current proprietary solution. Whether you deal with maintenance costs, hard-to-work-with vendors, or buggy applications, moving to OSS allows you to bypass the vendor and look at the source code—to troubleshoot and write a fix immediately if need be.

And, if you cannot figure it out, you could pay for support through an open source vendor or pop a question up on a local newsgroup.

Additionally, security concerns with proprietary software coupled with performance and reliability are also top issues to consider. OSS options such as Linux are really making gains due to consumer’s lack of confidence in proprietary alternatives.

As an IT decision maker, all of these factors should provide you with an easy decision to investigate OSS further. Even if you are not interested in this movement at all, keep your proprietary vendors honest by researching the possibilities. Your knowledge of what viable alternatives are out there might end up saving you thousands of dollars from nervous vendors scrambling to keep you out of the movement.

Why leave proprietary software? One of the most helpful business books that I have read in recent years was Who Moved My Cheese? by Spenser Johnson. One of the central themes of that book is that you can count on the fact that many things in your life will change.

But that’s not what will determine your destiny. It is up to you whether or not you will grow and adapt to the changes that come. The cheese in the title of the book can symbolize the option of a move from proprietary software to OSS.

You can choose to be a person who is flexible and prepared to deal with change and growth, or you can be rigid and waste your energy resisting changes that are inevitable.

The open source movement has moved the “cheese” of the IT industry in America today. Many members of the IT community in the U.S. are quickly starting to take notice of OSS. You can see this by the increased number of certified individuals on the open source platform.

It’s time you researched the possibilities. We are entering a world that is getting more and more connected by all types of software. It only makes sense that we are moving away from proprietary software and opening our arms to OSS where everyone works together to develop the best product possible and there are no hidden agendas.

Steven Warren is an IT consultant for the Ultimate Software Groupand a freelance technical writer who has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic, TechProGuild, CNET, ZDNET, and, now, CIO Update. He the author of “The VMware Workstation 5.0 Handbook” and holds the following certifications: MCDBA, MCSE, MCSA, CCA, CIW-SA, CIW-MA, Network+, and i-Net+.