Thought for the day:Better the Monster you know

Incisive columnist and IT expert Colin Beveridge looks at a hot issue of the day.Last week's theme tune was definitely Rolling...

Incisive columnist and IT expert Colin Beveridge looks at a hot issue of the day.Last week's theme tune was definitely Rolling Back The Years as I participated in an IT Directors' debate about Open Source software on the desktop. It was as if the past seven years had never happened and Bill Gates had simply been in the shower a little longer than usual.

For sure, last summer's licensing change by Microsoft generated some serious soul-searching among the infrastructure management community.

It instigated, in some quarters at least, an unequal and opposite reaction towards "alternative" solutions, even though we ourselves created the present monopoly situation by choosing to standardise on a single operating system.

We were the ones that recognised the benefit of integration within a strategic architecture and voted with our chequebooks.

We are Dr Frankenstein and Windows is our very own Monster, which we created, fed and nurtured.

Why then, are we so surprised if it occasionally tries to bite the hands that feed it?

Certainly, nobody likes to be over a barrel when a strategic supplier acts unilaterally. But I am concerned about the clamour for an "alternative" - as if we can, realistically, sustain wholesale migrations without suffering serious devaluation of service.

My concern lies in the fact that, in the past, too many proponents of Open Source have taken a polarised view of the world, advocating their own proposition to the total exclusion of Microsoft products.

Whereas the truth of the matter is that we do not have a simple binary choice - nowadays we need seamless interoperability between components and that does not mean a return to the bad, bad old days of "almost compatible" software.

Of course there is the danger that, if we choose to pursue a dashing new desktop software saviour, we may just be biting our nose off to spite our face

Do you prefer your friendly neighbourhood Microsoft monster to the perils of Open Source? >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Colin Beveridge is an interim executive who has held top-level roles in IT strategy, development services and support. His travels along the blue-chip highway have taken him to a clutch of leading corporations, including Shell, BP, ICI, DHL and Powergen.

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