Open-source IT "for the long run"

An enterprise IT buyer tells why she prefers open-source solutions to her business problems.

I just left a meeting with a large enterprise that dumped Microsoft Sharepoint for Alfresco for content management and collaboration. While that makes me smile, the thing that I loved hearing most from the vice president of IT was her general thoughts on open source, and why it's getting more play within this media company, including Alfresco, MySQL, Liferay, and more:

The culture here is about freedom and the ability to impact things ourselves. We're adopting more and more open source because we want to be in control of our own destiny....

In some cases, open source has meant higher implementation costs upfront but lower costs over the long run.

There is a resistance here to being framed into a long-term proprietary path: Closed APIs, closed standards, and closed source force us onto a vendor's licensing treadmill - we don't want that. We want flexibility and choice. We think about IT for the long run.

Music to my ears, and money in her pocket. I meet more and more IT people just like her, people that are tired of having vendors dictate their possibilities.

For example, she suggested that Microsoft Sharepoint may be great for those who want a Lego approach to IT with a limited set of Lego blocks set out for the enterprise. Take it or leave it, but you really can't customize it. That was a no-go for her team, though for some enterprises that view IT as a necessary evil it's not a bad approach.

For those who want to innovate, however, it's all about open source . If you're an IT consumer, proprietary software probably will work fine for you. But if you have even a shred of creativity and innovation, you need open source to make innovation a two-way street between vendor and customer . A partnership approach, in other words.

In other words, for the tragically average there's proprietary software. For those who aspire to more, there's open source. You choose.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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