Nick Carr writes in the UK's Director Magazine on how to cut information technology (IT) costs. In addition to Software-as-a-Service, consolidation, avoiding customization, and other things, his third suggestion was to adopt open source:
Free open source software has proved its value in running the inner workings of computer systems. The Linux operating system and Apache Web server, for instance, play key roles in keeping internet traffic flowing smoothly. Many companies have found that open source operating systems are a cheaper alternative to proprietary ones sold by big vendors. Virgin Money switched to Linux to run its consumer-facing website. As a result, it not only avoided high software licensing costs but also found its site's performance improved substantially.
Open source is moving into the application world as well. Although open source applications won't be right for every company, they can be more simple and less expensive to run than proprietary programmes.
Recruitment firm Reed chose an open source application, from Alfresco to manage documents throughout all its branch offices. It found the Alfresco application had the functions it required but was much easier to install and use than more complex content-management systems sold by traditional software firms.
I really didn't include this because of the reference to Alfresco (I was surprised that Nick knew about our deal with Reed), but because Nick isn't someone who gets excited by hype and marketing gimmicks. If he's suggesting open source as a viable option, it's because it is.