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Don't let open source hype detract from true cost

Cliff Saran
Open standards and open source software may be in vogue, but NCC chief executive Michael Gough's suggestion that proprietary systems stand in the way of innovation was questioned.

IT solicitor Rachel Burnett, vice-president of BCS forums, said, "What evidence is there that proprietary models are outdated and stifling innovation?" She warned users to be wary of using open source standards as they put certain restrictions on usage.

Sharon McLaughlin, IT manager at Stena subsidiary Northern Marine Management, said she was watching the debate on open standards with interest. "Individuals or organisations are being fooled by the hype that the software licences are free, and are forgetting that software licences are only one part of the jigsaw. You have to include deployment, support and management costs.

"Large firms still want a partner. Going down the Linux road does not necessarily mean you have control or freedom of choice; it just means you are not using Microsoft and you have locked your environment into another supplier, such as IBM."

Stan Hulme, group IT director at financial services firm Bland Bankart, was concerned open standards could lead to market confusion or even technical isolation.

Another IT director said that although end-users complained that IT directors had made Microsoft Office the de facto standard, they found that the ease with which they could share documents was worth paying for.

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