About Open Source for Small Business
Hard thing for me to write a serious post these days. I just can’t find time to learn in my thight schedule as Jakarta’s traffic force me to come home later and later everyday.
One thing I learn is about open source. The odd implementing these in office is near zero for office blind devotion to Microsoft, hey they have the money and Microsoft gives a good support services. So let me talk this on blog.
The problem for IT Implementation for small company is money, and for big company like my office is supports. For its great size and its presence in small, remote area and foreign country, my office need a good support service, a point that Open Source community fail to give (or is because lack of advertisement and marketing, who knows?).
Problem with Microsoft products is the price, something a small company can’t afford. The other alternatives, like software piracy are dangerous. So here comes Open Source.
Why Open Source?
The main business reason for FOSS is because cheap and affordable. I don’t mention the word “free” here because there’s a learning curve and user training needs to be done not to mention support. In proprietary software buying the software sometimes also gets you user training and limited support for free.
In my office, BPM software cost us about 2000 USD, and we trying to switch other BPM (the K2) to get more integration with Microsoft-based infrastructure (our current BPM software, Bizflow, run on Tomcat and pretty much hard to support), and that’s cost us more.
In FOSS, switching cost are significantly lower amount than proprietary counterpart (again, not free). There will always a cost for RnD and testing, but no licensing fee. Conclusion is, for switching FOSS cheaper than proprietary.
The next part is licensing. In proprietary software, in my experience in Microsoft Windows Server 2008, licensing is a complicated problem. I studied the licensing scheme for Server 2k8 and i found it pretty much confusing. There is per-processor license, and per-user license.
My office choose per-user license, and pretty much hold up our application testing and support efforts for the limit 3 online user per-server (for addition, the third can connect by robing console access, so its actually only 2 terminal connection). My hands are itching to crack it 😈 , but the office legal software policy won’t allow it . And FOSS don’t have that kind of problem. You can have as many connection as you want in your Debby or Redhat or openSUSE.
There is other reason, but I let you fill the blank.
Why not Opensource?
The support is the main reason on why not using Opensource. Except you have the support from an IT consulting for your FOSS implementation you need an IT support division, and that cost money.
I don’t recall a single IT company that gives support for FOSS software. I can mention few FOSS-based company, but only limited in selling and supporting their own FOSS solution, not giving support for Linux OS, MySQL, or Apache software for example. That’s mean a good business opportunity to give FOSS-based solution and support for small to medium company. But like all pioneers, trailblazing is a hard path.
What about community support? Well, that’s one kind of support. But the size of community matters. If you’re using FOSS for critical process for your business, make sure you use popular software with helpful community. If you use an obsecure one, maybe the community won’t help you, maybe they will, there is no guarantee.
The maturity for FOSS is other concern. Yes, Linux is mature, MySQL is mature, but FOSS for enterprise applications are not mature yet. Can you bet your money for openBPM or FOSS version for ERP or CRM? There is a lot of enterprise apps in sourceforge.net. Do your research well. The good part is, you can test it before you implement it for your company.
The decision for using FOSS or not FOSS are business decision not idealistic one. If you can afford it, and don’t have people or time to do support, proprietary is on the way. But if you can find a outsource solution for FOSS for your business, maybe its a good choice. But that’s for you to decide.
And like i mention in migration post, never ever trust an IT sales. Do your homework well, do a good research on which solution to use.
What do you think?
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The link will be updated soon. I have to get to work. 😛
Now, you can follow the link to research futher.