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Proprietary services vs. open-source services

Open source offers distinct advantages for those enterprises that want to try before they buy.

I had an interesting conversation this morning with a consultant at one of the world's top-three consulting firms. We were talking about the differences between systems integration (SI) services around proprietary software versus open-source software, and one major difference emerged:

Open-source software services tend to focus on giving enterprises a custom fit, whereas proprietary-software services focus on getting the software to work, and then later adding on customization as a separate consulting engagement.

The reason for this is clear: enterprises can download and kick the tires on open-source software without SI involvement. They can know - for free - whether the software will work. The proprietary world almost always requires payment before getting access to the software necessary to do such evaluation, whether it's the upfront license fee or a paid proof of concept. Open source lowers the bar (and, hence, the fee) to evaluation of software.

If I'm a CIO with a tight budget, I know where I'm going to want to spend my precious IT dollars.