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CIOs look to open source to do 'more for less' in tough economy

Open source lets vendors and buyers mutually profit in a recessionary economy.

I've been doing an informal poll recently of open-source companies, asking them how the tight economy is affecting their sales. In every single case, these companies are recording record sales.

It's perhaps not hard to find an answer: open-source solutions tend to cost a lot less than their proprietary counterparts, and provide equal or better functionality.

Open source is not merely about lower software price tags, however. As highlights with the Oregon Department of Human Services' attempt to find a new CRM system, the cost of product discovery and implementation also favor open source, in this case SugarCRM:

One of our top system architects came to our rescue when he discovered SugarCRM's application on the Internet and since it was an open-source application he was able to download and install it in a single day. Our customers loved it and since it was an open-source application we were able to make some minor modifications (mostly to screen literals) and have it in production within days. We were also able to download contact information from our mainframes and create a comprehensive partner database.

The bottom line was that when we went live with the HIPAA compliant transactions and code sets almost every electronic filler was ready and there was almost no increase in paper invoice volumes. While the cost savings were substantial the speed in which we able to meet everyone's needs was the big payoff.

Don't believe it? You don't have to--you can download this and other open-source software and try it for yourself. That's one of the most powerful things about open source: it returns choice to the buyer which, in turn, helps to reduce cost, a fact not lost on the Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin:

In these times you follow your grandparents' wisdom: Make the best of what you have. That means maximizing utilization of existing infrastructure. I expect open source and Linux, systems management tools, and virtualization technology, all of which allow for better utilization rates of existing infrastructure at a low cost, to do well in this market.

We are holding a Linux event on Wall Street in two weeks, and it is at capacity. IT managers realize that by using open-source infrastructure, they will be able to focus their resources on those higher-level areas that can't be cut at any time, such as security and manageability.

Zemlin is mostly referring to Linux, but the same argument holds true throughout the open-source software stack: more functionality for less money. That's a winning proposition in any economy, but especially during a recessionary economy when IT departments must learn to do more with less.

"More with less" is a great slogan for open-source software. Or perhaps "more for less." Either way, it's a winning strategy.

Disclosure: I am an adviser to and a customer of SugarCRM.