Open source: Eliminating suspicion and scepticism

As the value of open source becomes clear, a UK VAR discusses misinformation being distributed about open source-based software and services.

I attended a seminar the other day, and I was amazed just how much misinformation there was around the adoption of open source-based software and the services surrounding it. The reasons, the strategies, the options, the benefits it offers business today.

I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because open source, by its very nature and with such a developer-led resource, is such a fast-moving field. Or perhaps those within the open source community and providers of enterprise open source, like LinuxIT, just need to work harder at getting across the ability of open source to transform the management and performance of IT environments. Open source has the ability to contribute towards IT innovation, interoperability, return on investment (ROI) and so on.

The IT manager still faces the same barriers to success as always.

Peter Dawes-Huish, chief executive at LinuxIT,

Of course fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding the adoption of open source -- such as lack of support, lack of security and greater liability -- has been spreading for years, but its now rapidly melting away. This can be seen by the nationals and multi-nationals in the finance, telecoms, retail and government industries embracing both community and enterprise open source platforms as a key element of their mission-critical systems.

Whatever the reason for the scepticism towards open source in some quarters, it's a pity. Open source can generally provide the answer to the relentless demands on IT professionals for more features, functions and applications, often for less or the same cost.

Of course, most IT environments use open source-derived code. But even so, many organisations and IT professionals are missing out on the proven and unique benefits that open source can bring through their passive, even casual, rather than proactive, stance.

We all know IT is no longer a sideshow in the corporate structure. Today, IT is central to corporate success and profitability. But in my experience, the IT manager still faces the same barriers to success as always: A backlog of projects, an inadequate budget, a shortage of planning time, and unrealistic or unknown expectations. In these respects, open source can be an IT life saver, enabling the IT manager to do more with fewer resources.

The business benefits of open source
Leaving aside the freedom, choice and power that open source offers, the business benefits of open source fall into six categories:

  • Value creation: Ensuring return reflects IT investment
  • Economic incentives: Real savings from day one
  • Reliability: Robust, proven and supported enterprise platforms
  • Ease of deployment: Plenty of support at an engineering and user level<
  • Compliance: Systems that tick all the boxes

A good example of the growing preference for open source can be seen in the financial services market. Driven by the exponential growth of market volumes and profit pressures, all sectors of the financial services industry have increasingly been turning to enterprise open source and Intel and AMD standard servers as a way to dramatically improve performance and price benefits for mission-critical applications such as risk applications, market data systems and equity options calculators.

There are open source offerings being deployed today to improve performance and cost savings in these areas and more in investment banks, retail banks, insurance specialists and others. Many are also migrating from Unix-based systems to enterprise open source, such as the Red Hat stack, to achieve enhanced application performance and lower total cost of ownership at a capital and operational expenditure level.

The investment bank Brewin Dolphin, an open source user for many years, has developed internal expertise but also relies upon regular and occasional support from LinuxIT. They find a combination of outsourced business hours support and informed consultancy enables them to maximise the return on their open source investment.

Peter Dawes-Huish is the chief executive of VAR LinuxIT and a contributor to SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk.

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