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 (OS), by its very nature with such a developer led resource is such a fast moving field, or those within the OS community and providers of Enterprise Open Source, like LinuxIT, just need to work harder at getting across the ability of OS to transform the management and performance of IT environments. Its ability to contribute towards IT innovation, interoperability, return on investment and so on.

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

Whatever the reason for the scepticism towards OS in some quarters it’s a pity as it can generally provide the answer to the relentless demands on IT professionals for more features, functions and applications – for less or the same cost.

Of course most IT environments use OS derived code, 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 side show 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. Unrealistic expectations or worse, unknown expectations. In these respects Open Source can be an IT life saver, enabling the IT manager to do more, with fewer resources.

Leaving aside the freedom, choice and power that OS offers, to my mind the business benefits of OS 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, equity options calculators etc.

There are open source solutions 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.