Caution Implementing Open Source

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During this time of financial “belt tightening” we are all feeling the pinch and probably no one more than the IT organization budgets across the corporate map. IT is typically the first to get hit, and hit hard, by cut backs. It’s during this time that CIOs and VP’s who wouldn’t have given Open Source Solutions much of a look start to turn to Open Source as some sort of magic bullet to allow them to get what they need and stay within budget. I wish to throw out these words of warning to both the afore mentioned group and the Open Source enthusiast who have been working to get Open Source into their environments and might be thinking this is the opportunity they were waiting for.

Yes, there are financial benefits to having an Open Source architecture and those people who have one will be able to manage the rough waters moving forward a lot easier but if you have not already established this environment then chances are you’ve already missed the boat this time around. It should be made very clear that there is a cost to implement any environment, including an Open Source environment, and more so if you are attempting to replace an existing environment.

For my fellow Open Source brothers (and sisters) who long to hear the phrase “let’s move our environment to Open Source” please proceed with a great deal of caution. Make sure the spirit of the initiative to move to Open Source is one of genuine architectural decision making and not one of financial desperation. In the latter scenario, organizations have already conceded to needing to “cut corners” and see Open Source as a way of doing this. The message should be made clear that Open Source is not a corner cutting solution. Furthermore, there are no substitutes for best practice and common sense, so do not sacrifice your architecture for the opportunity to implement a piece of Open Source you’ve wanted to put in place, make sure it’s put in place correctly. It will do more harm to your environment, and the efforts to establish Open Source as a better solution, if your implementation is done poorly and without enough forward thinking and ultimately fails.

Final suggestions:
Where Open Source fits, IMPLEMENT! Accept there will be cost.
Where Open Source needs to replace another solution, plan out the implementation carefully and try not to sacrifices any current functionality you may have now.
Nothing replaces best practices and having clear, well defined standards.
Good Luck!

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