Feeds

Open Source may be cheap - but we still want support

Eating the cake

Build a business case: developing custom apps

OSBC Open source is increasingly driving enterprise development projects and installations, but big customers still rely on start-up software providers for support.

A panel of customers at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in San Francisco today agreed unanimously that open source enable them to kick-start projects they could otherwise not afford.

However, companies put the onus on open source software companies to step up and field questions, provide bug fixes, and to continually update their software.

Representatives from personal tax and accounting giant H&R Block, the Playstation operation of entertainment giant Sony, the Christian Science Monitor, and MIT told OSBC that support for emerging technologies is essential.

H&R Block's use of open source spans Alfresco enterprise content management, Zimbra email, and Java Business Process Management (JPBM) in various public and internal projects.

Company architect Daniel Cahoon said using Alfresco rather than EMC's Documentum meant H&R Block had paid one tenth of its regular software licensing. Alfresco charges $10,000 per socket for an unlimited number of users.

According to Cahoon, open source is important for proof-of-concept and development that would be too costly using closed source software.

He joked - at least we think he did - that support for Google Web Toolkit - used in one project - was thin on the ground as Google's developers were all off writing books. "You have to be careful," he warned those considering the open source route. "Don't go after the niche, bleeding edge, cutting edge if you haven't got the people internally."

Oliver Marks, senior manger for the Playstation web portal - accessed by engineers - agreed: "We are looking for a really healthy support community. If my guys are too busy and can't figure it out, there are problems."

The panel expressed concern over the tendency for developers to congregate around some sets of features and customer requirements while leaving others relatively untouched. Gaps were highlighted in management administration tools for installing Linux and open source, building enhancements for proprietary software packages, and in enterprise-wide calendaring.

Marks, who had singled out open source calendaring, said: "If we were building something from IBM they might be able to steer their supertankers in that direction. But open source can be wild and woolly - it's strong in some areas [not in others]. In an enterprise environment that can be very scary."

Marks supported open source for freeing him from the tyranny of vendor roadmaps and for enabling greater freedom to innovate by running with the code. "We would be building with commercial software if it fitted out needs... [but] we have control and know what's going on," he said.

Russ Danner, software architect at the Christian Science Monitor, said open source lets his organization shape product development. By participating in design and coding through the community process, customers get more input than through the alpha and beta development cycles of enterprise vendors. "You get input at the beginning of the product upgrade cycle," he said. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.