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The Benefits of 'Vendor-Free' Open Source IT 111

Posted by Zonk
from the keeping-the-consultants-out-the-cold dept.
mjasay writes "IDC has released a report looking into industry adoption of open software. In the study, analyst Matt Lawton stumbles across an intriguing trend: IT departments do most of the services around open source, rather than third-party consulting companies. While IDC believes this is a bad thing, the data in the report suggests otherwise. 70% of the enterprises surveyed did their own implementations, while roughly 90% supported their own open-source deployments. This might be a cause for alarm if the projects weren't so successful: 70% of the projects were deemed to be of "Critical" or "High Importance" compared to other IT projects and 90% plan to maintain or increase their investment in open source projects. Could it be that open source is liberating enterprises from an unhealthy dependence on vendors, and that early results suggest that this will be a Very Good Thing for the success of IT projects, many of which have failed historically."
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The Benefits of 'Vendor-Free' Open Source IT

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  • by neapolitan (1100101) * on Sunday February 17, 2008 @03:15AM (#22451160)
    Very interesting thesis of this post. In my line of work (health care) there is a lot of in-house development of patient care record systems, as there is not a dominant standard at this time.

    I've found the following:

      - You get smarter, more resourceful people when they are not MSCE drones, but actually programmers that are able to solve a problem, not just relay it up the chain or find the checkbox in the configuration GUI.

      - There is much less waste in a way, and more in another way. Specifically, implementing a solution often involves talking to a single person about a problem with the database, not finding the "Oracle consultant guy" who then can talk to the "Microsoft guy." With a department that has its own development, these things seem to go faster and there is less separation of functions.

      - However, many hospitals / organizations duplicate functionality, which is the "more waste" that I talk about. I mean, many, many businesses are the same and need email / web server setups plus a few business-specific apps. This is all duplicated by each organization. Training a consultant is even more globally efficient in this regard, who can take his expertise and start multiple implementations without (expensive) retraining.

    Overall, I think this is great news for smart people going into IT. You will be sought after to lead a company department, and all of those license fees can now contribute to your salary + additional savings for the company. Would you rather earn $x from being a MSCE admin, or $5x managing a vertical open-source system with much more intellectual stimulation? I'd take the latter.
    • by ndg123 (801212)
      Preferred-vendor (or preferred technology) approaches are OK until your business problem can't be helped by an existing off the shelf component. Rather than go for large scale bespoke development, the result is often large scale package customisation and integration, with most of the same disadvantages. Either of these need decent in-house business domain knowledge, which pure IT services companies can't provide, which is why some of them are aligning to industry segments and not just technology. But if
      • by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Sunday February 17, 2008 @05:56AM (#22451912) Homepage
        You know, there's another good reason IT guys support open source projects. When things go wrong, you just enter the error message into Google, and 80% of the time, the solution is right there! It's faster to fix open-source goobers than it is to call a support company. Google and open-source make you smarter than a paid closed-source consultant. Why do IT guys support open-source themselves? Because they can. Because it's actually easier. And... it's more fun :-)
        • how is that different with closed source? You get an error chances are you will find one with a closed source project as well.
          • With an open-source app, you can actually look at code and, if you have the skills, fix it.

            Try that with something from Microsoft, Adobe, or Symantec.
            • by CrazedWalrus (901897) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @10:13AM (#22452962) Journal
              Or, if you have decent communication skills, talk to the developers who can usually fix it very quickly. A few years ago, I was having trouble getting FreeTDS to compile on an *old* Solaris platform (not a common target in the least). I worked with the developers, James and Freddy, I think, and they were astonishingly responsive. In fact, at times I was the one slowing down the process. They had the bug investigated and patched in a day or two. Unbelievable. That could never have happened with closed-source software.

              Another time I ran into a minor SQLAlchemy bug having to do with Postgres domains column types. I reported it along with some sample code to reproduce the error, and it was fixed in the next release a couple weeks later.

              It's that kind of responsiveness that's the reason I'm a FOSS fanatic. I get so frustrated with closed off-the-shelf software! Yes, FOSS is sometimes a little rough around the edges or incomplete, but it's always improving and the authors have always been responsive to my problems -- even if it was a PEBKAC error. Can't say the same for closed source.
              • by IdleTime (561841)
                We (a very large software company with closed source) have a clause stating we will produce a bugfix within 24 hrs after the bug has been assigned to a developer for Priority 1 issues (down production system). That is basically the same as what you saw.
                • No it isn't. What I saw is that kind of response for issues that likely only affected me, and only in odd use cases. They weren't major -- just a pain in the butt. There was no production system down, and I didn't pay them a cent. It couldn't be more different.
                  • by ndg123 (801212)
                    Yes, and if they'd been busy, on vacation, or sick, you wouldn't have got a minute of help. That's not an acceptable mitigation strategy for the risks associated with using software for mission critical applications. But a pre-paid fast response service for Sev 1 problems *is* an acceptable mitigation strategy in the eyes of IT service managers, compared with a couple of well meaning dudes who wrote the code and are empowered to fix it for whomever they choose - at the end-users' risk. In summary, its ho
                    • by chromatic (9471)

                      Yes, and if they'd been busy, on vacation, or sick, you wouldn't have got a minute of help.

                      Yes, and if the system had been a small customer who couldn't (or wouldn't) pay for top-tier support, or if your company determined that the problem wasn't a mission-critical failure, would you have provided your tip-top 24-hour bugfix support?

                      Value for money ? I'll leave that for someone else to discuss.

                      Want to discuss value for everyone, regardless of ability to pay?

                    • "Yes, and if they'd been busy, on vacation, or sick, you wouldn't have got a minute of help. That's not an acceptable mitigation strategy for the risks associated with using software for mission critical applications."

                      And what about having professional senior technicians in charge of such "mission critical applications" and then they themselves can boil the egg, so to say? From my experience it isn't an acceptable mitigaion strategy either, and the hell if I can imagine why (well, I *do* imagine why, but i
                    • by ndg123 (801212)

                      Yes, and if they'd been busy, on vacation, or sick, you wouldn't have got a minute of help.

                      Yes, and if the system had been a small customer who couldn't (or wouldn't) pay for top-tier support, or if your company determined that the problem wasn't a mission-critical failure, would you have provided your tip-top 24-hour bugfix support?

                      First, the "won't pay": If you do not need 24-hour bug fix support, then its not mission critical. Almost by definition: if the cost to the business is greater than the cost of support, you purchase the support to mitigate the risk of the business losing money. Corporate IT is driven by money, not technical perfection.

                      Second, the "can't pay". This is certainly a case for "self insuring", i.e. having in-house expertise, and ideally implementing systems which can obtain 24-hour support. For actual p

              • The problem with the OSS model, is that you are dealing with the developers on a more personal basic while it can make the process quick. But depending on the person it could also cause a huge drag or no movement what so ever. If the person is open to change and is really focused on making a quality product and they are professional about it then you will get good responce. But if the Developer was in it to make himself look good, then he may feel offended that you found a problem in his Baby, and make ex
        • by ckaminski (82854)
          80% of the time? The ONLY time I haven't found an solution to a problem using Google is with

          1. Bleeding edge hardware (ATI/NVIDIA you suck) (Closed or Open Source)
          2. Rare Technologies (MAPI, RogueWave you suck)
          3. Code I write myself.

          I'd say closer to 99.9% of the time. It is however how you phrase your solution, and I find that my ability to solve problems correctly is mostly my ability to distill a problem down to a 10-20 term Google phrase.

        • by Jynx77 (974092)
          Have you ever worked on non-open source projects? When things go wrong, you just enter the error message into Google, and 80% of the time, the solution is right there!!! Don't mistake Google's search capability with some benefit of open source projects.
    • by naapo (982524)

      - However, many hospitals / organizations duplicate functionality, which is the "more waste" that I talk about. I mean, many, many businesses are the same and need email / web server setups plus a few business-specific apps. This is all duplicated by each organization.

      I believe GPL is specifically crafted to address this issue, at least in theory, as the source code for every published new version of the software must also be published. However, for the internal use within organizations, like in the hospitals you gave as an example, there is nothing in the GPL forcing to publish the source code, because the new binaries are not published either. I think some companies, e.g. Google, already benefit from that. I think it is bad, because it leads to wasted resources as

    • by weicco (645927)

      Now I got it why our software project was so successful even when our client in healthcare business didn't have any fricking idea what they wanted and our other business partners we're totally clueless too. I never passed the 70-316 exam! I'll make a mental note not to try it again, ever ... ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by The Spoonman (634311)
      Interesting reply, but I work in the financial industry, and I find the exact opposite to be true. Most in-house developers are clueless dimwits who've fallen behind the times because they've been isolated from real programming techniques and newer technologies. They end up doing things the same old way for years at a time and nothing really changes.

      You get smarter, more resourceful people when they are not MSCE drones, but actually programmers that are able to solve a problem

      This would make more se
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by DudeFromMars (1097893)
        >>Most in-house developers are clueless dimwits

        You are being too harsh.
        Clueless, yes.
        Dimwits?
        I have seen some work up to half-wits.

        Then there are a few in-house developers who are pretty good - and going to leave.
        Working in-house almost always degenerates into doing at least some tech support, and that kills developer productivity.

        >> Certifications.. do not, in any way, indicate a person's ability to do a particular job.

        Exactly correct.
        I have seen a negative correlation - more certs = less skill
      • by dodobh (65811)
        Administrators make terrible developers and developers make terrible administrators.

        Bull. Every good administrator I know is also a good programmer. Most good programmers I know are also good administrators (the exceptions tend to be academic types).

        But then, my experience is on the Unix side where scripting and programming are the norm, as opposed to the Windows side where point and click is the norm.
        • Bull. Every good administrator I know is also a good programmer. Most good programmers I know are also good administrators (the exceptions tend to be academic types).

          Bull. I would contend that you're not skilled enough to know the difference.

          But then, my experience is on the Unix side where scripting and programming are the norm, as opposed to the Windows side where point and click is the norm.

          Actually, pretty much every Windows admin I know knows a little bit of scripting and programming as well.
          • by dodobh (65811)
            Most of the good ones I know have been on both sides. That includes large chunks of code (in multiple languages - C, Perl, Ruby, shell, SQL, plpgsql, plsql, C++).

            I do mean programming -- Being able to choose algorithms, data structures (including complex ones), overall architecture, maintainability .... Not just small, one off scripts. I don't count the ones who can hack together a small script in the good programmers section, but if you can build a library of those, I would definitely consider you a progra
    • by quux4 (932150)

      You get smarter, more resourceful people when they are not MSCE drones, but actually programmers that are able to solve a problem, not just relay it up the chain or find the checkbox in the configuration GUI.

      Err ... wait. Are you saying that all sysadmins should be application developers, and vice-versa?

    • by Juulia (1241582)
      neapolitan - interesting post. Im not an IT geek and have no clue about this technical stuff generally, but would be interested in finding out about open source in the health sector in particular. What is the attitude towards open source software in healthcare, and how do you see the situation developing? Thanks, much appreciated.
      • To be honest, my hospital is pretty agnostic as a whole. I mean, they use established technologies that will work and be cheap whatever the methodology -- on the whole we use Exchange server for mail, Microsoft IIS or Apache for the web (weird combo, split down the center), and Citrix for Windows apps on desktops (good idea for keeping the desktop OS independent, and easily allowing VPN access regardless of platform.)

        The majority of clinical apps were developed for Windows without any open source. There a
  • You know what they say. 53.74% of statistics are mad. up on the spot.
    I mean come on. You have 4 percentages. Two of them are 70%. The other two are 90%. How big was their sample size? 10?
  • Open Source != Free (Score:3, Interesting)

    by metlin (258108) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @03:33AM (#22451268) Journal
    Sure, a lot of these may be Open Source, but I know of a lot of companies that have Open Source software installed by commercial vendors (e.g. Red Hat or even IBM).

    Now, this may not necessarily be a bad thing, but I don't see how this is markedly different from, say, paying Microsoft.

    You're still paying for support and stability -- just that you have a little more flexibility and control over your software, which usually does not matter all that much in enterprise production applications. I mean, just often do you recompile your kernel or add a new feature on your platform handling millions of transactions a day for a critical client? I didn't think so.

    I mean, yay for Open Source and all that, but so what? At least from a customer perspective, you may not be paying for licenses anymore, but you are still paying for support -- and that is usually where the bulk of the expenses lie.
    • by metlin (258108)
      And I must clarify - when I mean vendors, I do not mean third party consultants (even by those vendors), as the article seems to indicate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pembo13 (770295)
      Neither the summary nor the article seems to imply that open source == free. but it is a waste of resources to reimplement things, just because only good implementation is proprietary and you can't afford it. Some companies still implement their own timesheet and issue tracking systems -- what if there was a good OSS they could just mod to suite their needs.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @04:46AM (#22451602)
      The biggest difference is that it's hard to institute buyer lock in if the company can commission a plug in to export the files to a different software suite. It might be expensive, but usually not, and it is usually less expensive than sticking with a company or software package that is that expensive, that outdated or possibly that insecure. In many cases the software has already been written by somebody that has wanted to do the same thing anyways.

      That probably isn't as much of an issue for home users, but in a corporate environment the cost of lock in can be huge.

      And that's the case whether the software is paid for or not, as long as you've got the code, you have the option to overcome the lock in most cases.

      Which is why I generally use products like moneydance that can export as xml or products that use common standards like mp3 or even rtf. Looking forward to ODF though, that'll hopefully be much better than the rtfs have been.
    • SCO comes to mind. I know of a number of companies that ARE dependant on SCO. How is their service? Not so great. Also, the same thing happens in the closed source world. That is, companies like MS will say that you MUST upgrade to their next version. If you do not, then you have the issues. How many companies are actually running Win31, Win98. NT, win200, etc? Loads. Can they get patches? Nope. Not a one (save a new virus).
      OTH, imagine if you buy Oracle linux, and then they are bought by MS. What do yo
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by haruchai (17472)
        If a company has a support contract, it's not that easy to just bail on it.
          Some of those enterprise or government contracts are pretty tightly written.
          I just finished taking a course at HP and the instructor said that due to
          the large installed base of OpenVMS in the US Armed Forces, HP bowed
          to the existing requirement that VMS will NEVER be "sunset".

        • Re:Hmmm. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @11:55AM (#22453606) Journal
          The feds are treated different. I use to work at HP, and I can tell you that HP will not sunset that stuff because it is SOOOO profitable once active development stops . The reason is that active development has stopped so the team of 300 ppl is now done to 30 and then down to 3. But you typically have the same amount of money coming in. That is why HP likes to buy up old companies. The support dollars makes them worth a LOT. It is also why HP really did not jump on Linux at first. There will never be that opportunity for end of contracts. OpenVMS will be milked with just 10 coders on it, for the next 2-3 decades (your instructor snowed you).

          But SCO is a different matter. They are about to go under. Once a company goes chap 9 or 11, they are under no legal obligations to uphold these, except ones like the feds. BG is only re-opening this case because Vista is an absolute disaster for them. Otherwise, SCO would now be gone.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @05:45AM (#22451846)

      Sure, a lot of these may be Open Source, but I know of a lot of companies that have Open Source software installed by commercial vendors (e.g. Red Hat or even IBM).
      Isn't The Fine Article saying exactly the opposite?

      Now, this may not necessarily be a bad thing, but I don't see how this is markedly different from, say, paying Microsoft.

      You're still paying for support and stability -- just that you have a little more flexibility and control over your software, which usually does not matter all that much in enterprise production applications. I mean, just often do you recompile your kernel or add a new feature on your platform handling millions of transactions a day for a critical client? I didn't think so.
      In fact, in my environment, we have done exactly this. We've said "Hey [HARDWARE VENDOR] and [LINUX DISTRO VENDOR], we implemented [KERNEL HACKER]'s patch which has solved the stabilitly issue on [SERVER PRODUCT] - you guys should talk about getting this included in your next release." We've also said "Hey [SOLUTION VENDOR], we've made these code additions to [OSS PROJECT] you provided and its given us some functionality needed to solve some problems we've had - you should consider it in your next release." Granted - I don't see it every day. But it does come up.

      But that's all a bit of a red herring. It's not so important that we can make code changes but that other people can. People who aren't all beholden to the same decision makers. This gives us some leeway with our environment and vendor choices. We currently deploy a lot of RHEL. But if RedHat fails us as a vendor, we can move to Canonical or even Novell with relatively minimal fuss. We've put off major vendor and architecture changes like this before because the shift from one proprietary architecture to another was so dramatic that we were willing to put up with substandard vendor support for years. If that particular example was based on an OSS architecture, the shift would have been far, far simpler (albiet still somewhat involved I'm sure).

      To a lesser extent, licensing is still a plus. We have RHEL entitlements for our lab, but never enough to cover all the projects popping up. Most of the time we can simply stand up a CentOS instance and work with that until the point where one "needs" a full RHEL install. We really don't need the full support of RedHat for those projects. And it's nice to not worry about where the licensing is coming from.

      Do we still pay for Open Source Software? Sure do.... a fair amount. Of course, at our level, licensing is supposed to be a minor issue. I'd believe that more if we didn't keep running in to issues about where other OS installs are getting licenses or how many CALs a project needs.
      • by einhverfr (238914)
        I see two levels to open source software.

        1) Single vendor open source products (SQL-Ledger, MySQL) are commerical products which are released under open source licenses. Getting patches upstream means that they have to go through a single commercial entity with a stake in the process. In general, I consider these the least optimal solutions if more open ones exist.

        2) Multi-Vendor open source projects (LedgerSMB, PostgreSQL, Apache, for example) are products where multiple vendors provide first-class sup
    • by symbolset (646467) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @06:25AM (#22452056) Journal

      I mean, yay for Open Source and all that, but so what? At least from a customer perspective, you may not be paying for licenses anymore, but you are still paying for support -- and that is usually where the bulk of the expenses lie.

      The perspective that organic resources are inferior to external resources for solving problems can be resolved in HR by hiring capable people. You can start by hiring capable HR people or letting the prospective coworkers interview the applicants. If the attitude of the HR team is that any certified fool will do it should no surprise that certified fools are doing the work and the result will be as expected. If you can't solve this problem your competitors can and I'm not worried about how it works out for you.

      You're not just paying for support and stability. If stability were a critical factor you wouldn't be looking at Microsoft solutions at all. Their history on this issue is bad. Integration is a factor too and here Microsoft has the edge because their integration from bottom to top is superb. It's easy to integrate when you have no standard to adhere to. Open source answers are great for servers where one server does one job and you can strip out every other part. Where standards are present there's no reason not to go with open solutions. TCP/IP won, didn't it? On the desktop open source doesn't gain the end-to-end integration advantage until you're dealing with high levels of customization or large numbers of apps that don't work well together. Virtualization and application servers can be very helpful here. If what you need is an end-to-end answer today with the resources you have, the Microsoft answer can be an appealing choice.

      Two major problems with the Microsoft solutions are stability and flexibility. On flexibility, when you come to the point where the Microsoft solution just doesn't have the feature you want you'll find you're in a corner where the solution is beyond any answer. On stability they're improving but we're still a long way from "good". Another problem with flexibility is that if you move to a standards based approach you will find that the standards lag the practice and to compete you'll need people who can assess the merits of available technology despite lack of dominant standards. Such people are seldom cheap and often hard to find. It is my belief they are worth both the effort and the money.

      If by some chance you find yourself in an organization where a movement to adopt open source or standards is successfully met with "We can't do that, we're a Microsoft shop" my best guidance is to flee to the competitor that is not so impaired, or if it's a government shop, to lay low and solve the problems you have with the best available technology and let the conflict settle itself out.

      • by sjames (1099)

        On flexibility, when you come to the point where the Microsoft solution just doesn't have the feature you want you'll find you're in a corner where the solution is beyond any answer.

        It goes beyond features. The "Microsoft Way" means even the existing features are configured within the bounds of uses that MS imagined when designing the product. Their philosophy of fully integrated monolithic apps driven by user's input into the GUI with Active X (COM, DCOM, OLE, flavor of the month) or some single use AP

    • You're still paying for support and stability -- just that you have a little more flexibility and control over your software, which usually does not matter all that much in enterprise production applications
      Says you. If your closed/binary Microsoft application breaks, you can't fix it, you are at the mercy of the vendor. Who may not give a rodent's fuzzy behind how long it takes to bail you out, you are after all only a single sale.
    • Huge difference (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HangingChad (677530)

      Now, this may not necessarily be a bad thing, but I don't see how this is markedly different from, say, paying Microsoft.

      It's massively different. With Microsoft you're locked into their file formats and their upgrade cycle. You can either dance on the end of their patch string or leave your network vulnerable. I'm constantly surprised at how much MS dictates the daily activity of MS-centric shops.

      The best value with open source is to implement it yourself. The next best thing would be paying some

    • Our company doesn't currently pay any outside people to support our open source usage but we'll consider doing so on a as-needed basis. The vast majority of problems are stuff that is familiar to anyone that is experienced at working with the specific software and within the open source community but if something was new and above our abilities we'd pay for support.

      We are paying for support for a large proprietary ERP system. The software was expensive, requires expensive hardware (only runs on IBM), and su
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2008 @03:51AM (#22451352)
    This might be a cause for alarm if the projects weren't so successful: 70% of the projects were deemed to be of "Critical" or "High Importance" compared to other IT projects..."

    This post reminds me that most slashdotters are engineers, and not project managers. How in the world do you infer that the projects are "so successful"?

    The article (which I did read) does claim a large percentage of the projects are "Critical" or "High Importance", but this does not mean, "These are the successful projects." Rather it means, "These projects had damn well better be successful!" Are they successful? No word on that.

    This is another example of posters' bias, reading conclusions into an article that does not support them.

    Come back when there's some history of these internally supported projects. Let's see if they do better than the dismal 50% average success achieved by today's corporate technologists.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833)
      How in the world do you infer that the projects are "so successful"?

      Because if you define success as somebody using open source (as slashdot editors and most posters do), then all open source projects are by definition successful. Failure would be if they used closed source, and if they used microsoft it would be a disaster.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pembo13 (770295)
        What a bullshit thing to say. A project is successful if it meets its slated goals in the agreed amount of time and expense. This has nothing to do with OSS.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          This is British Airways joke number 666 currently cruising at 30,000 feet right over pembo13's head. Cabin crew: please jettison the toilets... WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHH!!!
      • Evidence (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnutoo (1154137)

        all open source projects are by definition successful. Failure would be if they used closed source, and if they used microsoft it would be a disaster.

        Sure, why not? If the free software was not a success it would quickly be replaced by your other options who's costs are known. Most of these companies have been there and done that.

        You are witnessing the rise of free software. It has already taken over embedded systems, HPC and other "server" applications. The whole point was to provide a community sh

    • Are they successful? No word on that.

      Modded "Informative"?

      Look, I know it's de rigeur for posters not to read TFA, but if you're going to moderate, at least TRY to understand what's going on.

      This point was addressed specifically in the article;

      90 percent of respondents are planning to increase or keep the same (very healthy) level of investment in open source.

      Clearly, if the projects weren't working out, we'd see this number come in much lower.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by daveb (4522)

        90 percent of respondents are planning to increase or keep the same (very healthy) level of investment in open source. Clearly, if the projects weren't working out, we'd see this number come in much lower.

        I've worked in healthcare IT (admitidly in a differentcentuary). The idea that bad projects would lead to a change in behaviour is a really nice fantasy. The reality is more like continually banging your head on a brick wall, when it hurts bang some more to see if it lessens, repeat.

      • by SHaFT7 (612918)
        This is in direct response to your sig, not your post. This is not intended to be inflammatory, or start a debate on the topic. If your going to quote God on what he's going to do, please read the book in which he says what he is going to do a little more carefully. He didn't say he would torture you forever, only that you would spend eternity separated from him. (which *I* define as torture, but obviously in a different way than you do.)
        • It is flamebait.

          ...and the rich man also died and was buried. "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away * and Lazarus in his bosom. "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted her

          • Sorry, the passage you quoted does not support your sig. The rich man was not punished for not worshiping God, but for his failure to use his excess resources to alleviate the suffering of his fellow man. "A certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate...and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table". So, the rich man was not condemned for his failure to worship God, but for his actions.
    • "The article (which I did read) does claim a large percentage of the projects are "Critical" or "High Importance", but this does not mean, "These are the successful projects."

      You don't seem to come from IT. IT projects only become "critial" or "hight importance" when they make people work better, so people start relying on them. Also, IT projects are declared sucessfull when they make people work better, so people start relying on them.

      I see how one could make that inference...

    • by einhverfr (238914)
      A few of us are both engineers and project managers :-) Also every good project manager I have ever met was also an engineer....

      In general, I have found that open source projects when they fail are more salvageable than closed source ones. In short a failure can be rescued when you have the option to do what is necessary to make the solution work for you.

      Now, granted, I manage consulting projects, so I don't directly talk as much to DIY people, but I suspect the same observations apply whether a consultan
  • A Perfect Team (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigitalisAkujin (846133) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @04:47AM (#22451604) Homepage
    Ten guys @ 120k a piece who are collectively computer experts in web design, web development, front end application development, linux, windows, mac, graphics, and networking will solve 100 times more problems 20 times faster for any organization compared to 100 4 year educated drones @ 60k.

    Truth....hurts. ;)
  • Yup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phaid (938) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @04:50AM (#22451620) Homepage
    Frustration with lack of decent support from enterprise software is exactly the reason I switched to Linux in my work apps in the first place.

    I develop software for electronic toll collection systems. In 1997, that stuff all ran on things like UnixWare 2.1 with VenturCom real-time extensions. It worked fine when it worked, but if you ever uncovered a bug that was difficult to solve, forget it. We once encountered a problem with the UnixWare 2.03 C library that caused a memory leak every time a file handle was written to. The fix? Upgrade to UW 2.1. Except, the realtime extensions package we had would only run on 2.03. What we needed was a patch to that version of the OS. SCO's answer? Well, that isn't our problem now is it? VenturCom's answer? Buy a new version of our extensions.

    After experiences like that, I decided to switch our projects to Linux. In 1997, support for the near-realtime features I needed (memory locking, adjustable priorities, POSIX signals) was pretty poor under Linux, but it was worth working around it to get away from the corporate OSes.

    The sad part is, my bosses initially refused to allow me to do that. The reason? There was no official means of support, we would have to maintain the software ourselves! To them, the concept of "support" was just a check box you ticked off somewhere, not something they actually ever had to use. And they had no idea that it was simply easier to go out and find a fix, or fix problems yourself, than to rely on some multilevel telephone hell that usually doesn't know anything in depth about the products it is supposed to help with.

    Ironically, today, practically every embedded system in the toll and intelligent transportation industry runs on Linux; it has become the industry standard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by masdog (794316)
      I had this experience recently. My company was looking to implement a computer-based training system for the employees at my plant. The HR department checked with other plants and found that they all used the same vendor as part of one giant training system. This system was decent, but the company charged an arm and a leg for everything. As the IT guy, I looked into some alternatives, and I found a couple of SCORM-compliant open source LMS packages. The only drawback to those is that we would have to p
      • by einhverfr (238914)
        Feel free to contact me. My business provides support for just about every open source project out there. What we can't do internally, we can get other people to do. We provide great support (at a price), but then it depends on what you need.
  • Open Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @04:54AM (#22451626) Homepage
    Open Source is used in businesses in packages that are well-known and known to be stable. They require little maintenance and has little or no support cost. Examples are the Apache web server, Eclipse development environment and BIND.

    Most information about how to tweak these are found quickly by using Google, while many commercial packages are cumbersome and also sometimes requires configuration in many places/modules using a variety of user interfaces to be both safe and stable.

    What often happens is that when a support issue actually occurs it can cost a lot of time to straighten out while trying to contact a vendor but it is likely already fixed in an open source package one way or another. What many analysts fails to see is that each support case can create a downtime that has an impact on both support personnel and a lot of people depending on the service.

    "The time to fix" factor is seldom seen in an analysis like this.

    There are of course also open source packages that doesn't work as well, but the author is often aware of that and has probably inserted a huge disclaimer stating the limitations. And how many times have you seen a limitation declaration in a commercial package? (Unless of course it's a liability limitation).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by badpazzword (991691)
      This is exactly what is going on in the gaming community I participate in. The game [freeallegiance.org] itself is Microsofted Open Source [slashdot.org], but the authentication system is a proprietary solution which relies on a third-party obfuscation company [xenocode.com].

      It so happens that Windows Vista isn't fully compatible [freeallegiance.org] with the game -- .net SP3 borks the authentication system [photobucket.com]. Its dev promptly looked for the problem, and of course the problem was found in the third-party obfuscation tool. He submitted a ticket and the community is waiting for a

      • by renrutal (872592)
        "and there's nothing we can do"

        Are there any real developers in that community? I'd say they could code their own, 10 times better, authentication code during that time.
  • by mawhin (635345) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @05:49AM (#22451876)
    Where I work, it seems to come down to

    (a) Spend several ten of thousands upfront and the another few thousand every year on a commercial product. Never have it integrate like they promised it would. Wait weeks or forever for fixes. Repeat every three years. Or..

    (b) Buy a couple of servers. Spend time I would otherwise have spent trying not to fall asleep putting together what we need by gluing together a few open source systems. Fix it when it breaks. Maybe it takes a few weeks. But we always get there in the end.

    I'd be much happier paying good money for commercial 'solutions' if they weren't pretty much always rubbish. And by rubbish I mean plaintext auth over http, I mean wasting a week whilst vendors argue over whose problem it is - without actually investigating, etc etc.

    If want less-than-perfect products with substandard support, I can do that myself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2008 @05:56AM (#22451916)
    The article has a chart, labelled "Primary Source of Project Services".

    And the line on the chart that struck me was the most was the one labelled "No other services required", with responses in the 20 percent (or more) range.

    That means one in five projects, relying on Open Source Software, requires no support whatsoever (other than what the developers do for themselves, I presume).

    That suggests that the Open Source Software they are using requires very little, if any, support.

    In other words, IT JUST WORKS.

    Can you imagine a project that relies on Windows, or other Microsoft software, that can get along without someone assigned to support? Heck, even a simple home Windows user has to know or hire someone to provide support, otherwise their PC ends up being used as a doorstop.

    This matches my own experience. My son provides my PC service. When I was using Windows, I had to ask him for help every couple of weeks or so. But then he installed Linux for me (Debian, Gnome, Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice), and he hasn't had to touch my PC for almost two years. Linux has never crashed on me (though Firefox has).

    I know that my son also converted a small business to Linux (servers and desktops), and now they don't call him unless they want something new added -- they never call him to fix something that's broken, unless it's a hardware problem.

    This means that, when it comes to Total Cost of Ownership, Open Source software is not only cheaper for the initial installation, it is also cheaper in the long run, due to reduced problems, and reduced support costs.
    • I am the support guy for my family and friends and after trying to get them to use free/open source i did get less calls. you don't need them to start using GNU/Linux only replacing IE, Outlook, MS Office, and MSN messenger does some differences, this maybe has to do with users trying "less stupid things" (like installing this great/new/cool thing they found on internet). VNC is also good, when they call me with a problem I only tell them to click on VNC icon and enter my IP(me running VNC client in listeni
      • by Anonymous Coward
        > replacing IE, Outlook, MS Office, and MSN messenger [on Windows] does some differences

        Actually, you're right, it makes a lot of difference, by cutting off attack paths for viruses and ad/spyware. Good point!

        > things I miss and/or have not found good free/opensouce solutions for:

        > antivirus (never liked AVG)

        It wouldn't surprise me if the Open Source antivirus products are weak. It's a question of motivation -- most developers would choose to be improving good software, to make it more virus-proof,
        • thanks for the reply, SQL-Ledger was the only one i have heard about.
          LabelNation looks realy promising also gave me a link to Worldlabel.com with free templates to OOo.org(going to save me hours with the ruler)
          now i have some research to do (if one of those companies have swedish support on their accounting software, then i'm switching to linux only).
    • "Open Source software is not only cheaper for the initial installation, it is also cheaper in the long run..."

      The problem is that FOSS is rarely cheaper for the initial instalation. Unless you happen to be creating your IT infrastructure now (that means, you are a new company), and have no communication problems with partners, FOSS is actualy more expensive to implement.

      Alied to a very step discount rate current CEOs show, that is the problem FOSS has to overcome.

      • by einhverfr (238914)

        The problem is that FOSS is rarely cheaper for the initial instalation. Unless you happen to be creating your IT infrastructure now (that means, you are a new company), and have no communication problems with partners, FOSS is actualy more expensive to implement.

        I agree. It is also usually more expensive in the long run, at least in my experience.

        But here is the catch-- this is the case because you can, if you want, pay more to get something which really matches what you need it to do, not what some marketing droid things it should do. And you can pay even more to make it match your business processes optimally.

        The issue is not that you generally *have* to pay more for open source, but rather that you *can* do so and that this generally provides a better return

  • Irony? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mangu (126918) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @05:59AM (#22451930)
    Don't you find it funny that a paper about Open Source [idc.com] costs $4500?
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @06:53AM (#22452152)
    The problem with this, is it requires keeping experienced people.

    good if your management are smart enough to realise the value of the people who work for them, but usually they don't see this.

  • CYA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2008 @09:36AM (#22452742)
    When I was young I heard a saying "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM". The concept of this is that if you were buying a computer system and the project failed, you could not be faulted for it if you had picked IBM as your vendor, while if you chose a different vendor your choice would be questioned and you could lose your job. This same mentality is applied to operating systtems and software now, but substitute Microsoft for IBM. Perhaps this is starting to change. It is fascinating to speculate on a world where IT managers would be questioned for their decision to choose Microsoft. "You implemented Vista all over our corporation? Why did you do that?"
  • Except I was coming at it from the angle that companies waste a fantastic amount of time and money on software vendors. The fewer you have in the mix, the more value in your IT systems.

    Too many companies are locked into dysfunctional vendor-lead relationships. They're getting advice and resources from another company in business to sell them something. It's bizarre but I see it all the time.

    The best value with open source is to implement it yourself. If you get into trouble you can always whistle up

  • And these services are needed -- only 21% of the projects did not require attendant services.

    First of all, what does IDC mean by "attendant services"? When I hear that, I think of the old half-blind guy that sits in the john at the rippers, handing out towels and cheap cologne for a tip. And trust me, kids: there's no way you're getting that second lapdance with wet hands and B.O.!

    Jokes aside, are you going to call up your local best-of-breed Certified Middleware Synergizer (TM) to setup Subversion for your in-house Web developers? Not so much.

    Rolling out Asterisk + SugarCRM on OpenVZ for th

  • by nuintari (47926) on Sunday February 17, 2008 @01:44PM (#22454452) Homepage
    Vendors assume you are ignorant of their products, especially as how it pertains to your own environment. Try it sometime, call a vendor and say, "I'd like to order 2 _vendor_ _model_, with X numbers of these add-ons, can I get a quote?" You won't get a quote for anything you ordered if the price tag is over a couple hundred bucks. They will happily sell you the little stuff, but the minute you order a large product, you become an idiot to them, who has to be walked through a slow and tedious process of "carefully examining your situation to ensure we find the right fit." yeah, shutup asshole. I researched this a ton, I know what this product will do, what I need it to do, I have found your 'right fit,' just quote me a price and lets get on with this. I do not need a four way phone conversation between you, the manufacturer's sales guy, and two techs explaining me a pile of stuff I already know. You are not going to sell me a product that is 10 times my expected price, I am not an idiot, when I said I wanted model Y, I meant "I want model Y!" not, "I am an idiot, and if you sweet talk me hard enough, I'll by the YY2000eleventyOverpoweredDontNeedItonlyMoronsBUyThis model"

    So yeah, fuck Vendors, we do 99% of our stuff in house, we are a FreeBSD shop with a ton of custom code. I like it this way, it keeps me off the phone with sales guys and snobby support techs. When it breaks, I fix it, not pick up the phone and pray they aren't having a high call volume.
  • The IT department savings doing support and maintenance of open source instead of using binaries may well be a false economy.

    Linux (and some open Unix variants) are the only operating systems with source code availability. IBM z/OS, AIX, HP-UX, Sun Solaris, and Microsoft Windows are all closed, black-box binaries with no source code.

    In almost all IT shops with open source operating systems, it is child's play to modify an OS routine and compile it to run innocuously on an IT-managed server. Who is lo

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