• United States

Case for open source software continues to build

Nov 29, 20053 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsOpen Source

* Developments in open source

Many of you, I know, have been wary of moving too quickly to embrace the open source software movement that Novell is espousing.

You wonder about reliability, productivity, perhaps even potential legal problems (should SCO ever present evidence in its lawsuits against Novell, IBM and anyone else who espouses open source). Some of you may even have a nagging suspicion that switching to open source, especially for your desktop operating system and office productivity apps, might even be more expensive than Novell has lead you to believe.

White papers and studies – such as the Microsoft-produced “The Value of Commercial Software in Government” – seem to imply hidden costs in switching to open source software.

Don’t you believe it.

Australia’s “The Builder,” a news source for developers, reports that the French tax agency has said it plans to migrate 80,000 desktops from Microsoft Office 97 to OpenOffice, its open source equivalent, next year. One of the primary reasons to do so is cost savings.

Jean-Marie Lapeyre, the CTO at the Direction Generale des Impots, which manages the taxes of all states and cities in France, is quoted as saying that the agency will save 29.3 million euros ($34.5 million) by making the switch. That is, instead of spending 29.5 million euros to upgrade to Office XP, they will spend 200,000 euros to migrate to OpenOffice. Look at those numbers! The agency will cut their expense for office productivity software by more than 99.3% – where else can you save that much?

Still, if you aren’t sure how to proceed, if you need more information, there’s a book I think you should read. “Open Source for the Enterprise” by Dan Woods and Gautam Guliani was recently published by O’Reilly books. As the back cover blurb states:

“This book provides something far more valuable than either the cheerleading or the fear-mongering one hears about open source. The authors… used open source software for some 15 years at IT departments large and small. They have collected the wisdom of a host of experts from IT departments, open source communities, and software companies. Open Source for the Enterprise provides a top to bottom view not only of the technology, but of the skills required to manage it and the organizational issues that must be addressed.”

Go online and read the full description, browse the table of contents and download the sample chapter. It should answer most of your questions and, hopefully, calm your fears.