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Daily Spin: When Your Boss Fears Open Source

Reality IT
When Your Boss Fears Open Source

Our latest Reality IT column (Quelling the Boss' Open Source Fears) covers a touchy subject: keeping your boss in the loop on open source. As the column describes, executives may not realize it, but today's enterprises run open-source software throughout the network. And when they do find out, it usually leaves them in need of reassurance.

What to do? Here's a handy checklist for keeping the boss happy:

  1. Make sure your bosses understand that open source is everywhere these days. In many cases, open source is more about infrastructure than deployed "products" -- open source is a strong alternative for providing inexpensive redundancy for critical network services such as SMTP, DNS, DHCP and FTP.
  2. Explain the power of support being just a listserv away. The majority of IT staffers -- as the Reality IT column makes clear -- try to solve most network problems among themselves anyway. With open source, "among themselves" turns into a much bigger universe, with a community of users willing to help find solutions to common problems. On top of that, a whole ecosystem of (for-pay) consultants, vendors and service providers have sprung up to provide commercial support for open source products as well.
  3. Emphasize the quality of open source apps and tools. From Linux to Apache to Tomcat to Snort and beyond, open open-source alternatives match or exceed the capabilities of commercial offerings.
  4. Make sure it's clear that even "commercial" products include open source code. Name the vendor -- IBM, Sun, Novell, Cisco. All take advantage of open source code when it makes sense. That should minimize concerns about code quality and security.

The days when "no one got fired for buying Big Blue" are in the past -- in more ways than one. IT needs the ability and freedom to deploy the best tools for the job, commercial or open source. And besides, few vendors have embraced open source as deeply as IBM. If they can make the leap, why can't your IT department?

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