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Cost-Conscious Companies Turn To Open Source

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.

Software 249

Martyr4BK writes "BusinessWeek has a slew of special reports today on open source software discussing the benefits for buyers who are cost conscious and open source being the silver lining for the economic slump. They even have a slideshow of 'OSS alternatives' like Linux, Apache, MySQL, Firefox, Xen, Pentaho, OpenOffice.org, Drupal, Alfresco, SugarCRM, and Asterisk. These are all good examples (we use a bunch of them already); what other open source software can I use to drop my company's IT costs, and maybe get a decent bonus for the year?"

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yawn (-1, Offtopic)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945439)

yet another bunch of propagandist self-appreciation...

Re:yawn (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946463)

It should worry you that someone called Adolf Hitroll with First Post! actually makes a worrying amount of sense.

This story reminds me of those horrid company newsletters that always headline with similar silver lining type stories about how the company's favoured technology is taking the world by storm, regardless of whether there is a bust, depression, global thermonuclear war or the return of The Old Ones to consume the world.

"Company (NASDAQ:COMP) salesdrone Mr Smith reports that Lord Cthulhu's (NASDAQ: N/A) return has upside. Company RFIDs are being implanted in babbling mad civillians in a fallout shelter miles beneath ruined Washington DC. As other cities are consumed, upto 0.0003% of the population will survive in gibbering insanity for weeks before they starve or asphyxiate and will require an RFID for tracking. Company sales representatives have also been dispatched to visit R'lyeh to discuss possible synergies between the company's other product lines and Lord Cthulhu's takeover of this planet and possibly universe, but have not so far reported back. They did report in via email, but those emails have not so far been deciphered."

Re:yawn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25947141)

The irony is that you and every other poster here on slashdot are misinterpreting this article for what it really is, the death knell of programmers world wide! That's right. Soon, no programmer will make any money off of anything ever!!! We will all become slaves to a master race of heartless penguins!!!

It's their retaliation for human-caused global warming! Anyone who knows how to code will be whipped and beaten mercilessly in the FOSS mines, working day and night to bring free as in beer and free as in speech software to the end-user! Not only that, but every project will be forced to be user-friendly point and click interface!!! Need to change from .avi to .ogg using ffmpeg? It will take a hundred clicks!!! Bash will be replaced with a maze of mouse-driven gestures and patterns!!! Zork will be unplayable!!!

And unfortunately, my fellow programmers, that is just the beginning. Soon after, we will see every distro become amalgamated into Idiotbuntu, Linux for idiots! So, fear the penguins!!!

Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (3, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945459)

Do they mention anything about project management? Even on linux, the free stuff I've found can't compete with the uber-expensive proprietary stuff. Am I just looking in the wrong places?

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945559)

Slide Show [businessweek.com]

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (4, Informative)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945581)

I use planner.

Have you tried it? I find it is adequate for my needs. Mind you I am not the most hardcore project management user out there...

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945743)

Yeah, I've tried it. It's actually under my "Office" submenu now (don't ask me why apt puts it there...)

Nice for the four kinds of charts, but not much else... Not even PERTs, apparently.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945805)

I've heard good things about both TaskJuggler and openproj.

The latter can read MS Project files.

TaskJuggler claims to be comprehensive, but I've got the impression that it's one of those OSS apps that does absolutely everything *if* you can figure out how the hell to get it to do anything at all.

Still, maybe worth a quick look at those two.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (3, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945835)

For product management, the best thing I've found is redmine [demo [redmine.org]]. I implemented it for the small company I do part time work for, and it's worked well so far. At my full time job, we use Mercury Quality Center. It's better in some respects but worse in others.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (2, Informative)

mjhaynes (604572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945895)

You're not alone in having trouble finding hardcore project managment solutions, particularly if you're looking for something to replace Sharepoint and MS Project. I use Trac [edgewall.org] for project management and software development, and I really like it. It requires a database, Apache, and Python. I know that 37 Signals uses it for their development work.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945905)

Trac now has a nice SCRUM plugin. And a separate SCRUM tool is built off the TRAC project. Trac also has alot of additional plugins which are extremely useful for project management like gant charts and stuff and can integrate with subversion and has very basic bug tracking as well. Can be a good all in one tool for internal and remote offices (since it is web based).

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1)

Octorian (14086) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946027)

Trac is an absolutely excellent software package, in its domain (smaller-team software development projects). I'd even go so far to say as its the best thing the OSS world has to offer in that arena. However, I'm not so sure its useful as a generic project-tracking system, in the way MS Project and similar software is intended.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947463)

Yeah, I love Trac but have to agree with you. OSS doesn't have anything that competes with Microsoft Project. Open Office did have something that was going to compete but it got sidebarred while they pushed 3.0 out the door. They may be getting back to it now or else someone may be building onto Eclipse... I dunno.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945973)

Aside from Trac though, I hate to say this but you are right. My manager recently asked about this and after researching, I had to admit that I couldn't find anything satisfactory. I use Trac (which is web based) but it's not something that I would suggest for project management on a daily basis. Agile42 [agile42.com] is the SCRUM tool based on Trac which again is web based but is very good. But again, not much out there for project management.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946117)

At Sun Microsystems, we've been working on something that I think is the perfect Project Management system. Project Kenai ( http://kenai.com/ ) has provided everything I've needed, from SVN/Mercurial (It should have others, maybe Git), a Wiki, BugTracker (using Bugzilla atm) and it also has a Social aspect to it. It was in private beta until recently, but I believe anyone can sign up and use it now.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25947379)

What is it with Sun Microsystems and interface design? You guys manage to make everything look very ugly, not what I'd expect from a company capable of hiring decent UI designers.

Even if you can't afford UI designers, tell the people who're trying to do the job that, in design: less is more.

Get rid of those awful gradients, horrible bullet points, weird bulgy header (just make it a box, FFS!), the blurry logo and the overly-complicated 'Beta' sign (never try to use real-world elements as part of a design, e.g. torn paper, notebook spirals etc.; it takes a very good designer to make it work). Oh, and make sure your text is always left-aligned, browsers still can't make justified text look good.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946231)

GanttProject is not bad. Simple but usable.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (3, Informative)

CornMaster (1105789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946487)

I use dotProject: http://dotproject.net/ [dotproject.net]

It's not exactly an application or linux only, as it is a web app, but it is free and open source. And it allows many users to input into a process. Currently our project manager manages everything with MS Project using some of its features. This type of product allows managers (or at least in our case) to offload some of the updating to the workers since they can log their own progress.

I've used a few other web app managers but dotProject seemed to have the most features. Not exactly a piece of cake to configure, but it is quite powerful.

Re:Couldn't find the slideshow mentioned... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946785)

for projects we use dockuwiki + mantis (as a general task manager) + home grown web timesheets.

Would love to... (3, Informative)

DogDude (805747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945463)

Would love to save $$$ with OSS, but the software I need (robust, full-featured POS system) is non-existent. Bummer.

Re:Would love to... (1)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945591)

I'm with you on this, for certain uses OSS is just not feasible without coding it yourself. If I could find an MIS that would run all of my companies manufacturing operations in OSS that would be phenomenal and save us mad cash.

Re:Would love to... (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945801)

Hire some developers and put them to work then release the software under the GPL.
Free doesn't always mean free as in beer.
The idea is that once you make the investment you will get others improving your software.
But for somethings like CAD I just don't think you will ever find a FOSS solution as good as what you pay for. But I think ProE run on Linux :)

Re:Would love to... (2, Insightful)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946173)

That would be great, however the cost of several developers to create a system that rivals existing systems that we can buy would be prohibitive. If there were a middle ground.. hire a developer to tweak an existing 'almost there' system.. that would be doable.

Re:Would love to... (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946203)

I'm willing to pay as much as $20K for software for a single store. That's a lot of $$ for software.
Unfortunately, that same $20K wouldn't even get a developer past the architecture phase. Besides, if I *did* spend hundreds of thousands of dollars reinventing the wheel, I certainly wouldn't hand that software to all of my competitors who didn't have to sell their firstborn children to pay for it like I did.

Re:Would love to... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946849)

"I certainly wouldn't hand that software to all of my competitors who didn't have to sell their firstborn children to pay for it like I did."
That is the problem with FOSS.
The idea is that you will get back more than you put into it. Or you could go into business selling it yourself with support.
But that is the problem with FOSS.
But there are some projects that might fit what you need.
But none of them seem both mature and active to be honest.

Re:Would love to... (1)

coleblak (863392) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947079)

Then you hire the people to help out the users and charge them[users]. That business model works quite well.

Re:Would love to... (4, Interesting)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946033)

I'm not convinced yet that money is saved for small to medium businesses. We are supposedly an open source shop and productivity is severely hampered by the constant maintenance required. We have twice the IT staff for half the people that were being served in my previous job, which was MS based.

In addition, the open source IT staff seem to just want to constantly be changing everything when something newer and flashier comes out (read that as closer to functionality to a purchased project). In one year we have had 3 different email servers, with the associated problems of swapping over. Or the IT recommended web casting software works on MAC and windows but doesn't have full functionality on the Linux boxes. I was hoping that would change when we change the IT staff lead, but the new guys seem the same.

I also find it amusing that the anti-MS IT staff bitch about things like MS Outlook, but then celebrate when Thunderbird adds a function bringing it closer to MS Outlook.

Over half the company just use their own personal laptops due to the hassle, which ironically, defeats the crippling obsession with security that the IT guys have.

Re:Would love to... (3, Insightful)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946235)

It sounds more like you have an issue with management and leadership in your IT department than issues with OSS.

Re:Would love to... (2, Insightful)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947115)

Oh, I agree with you. The problem lies in hiring talented staff. This is why I started saying that "I'm not convinced yet..." The concept of not paying the license fees is very attractive. However, albeit in my limited exposure, I have yet to see an OSS staff that is not distracted by the daily updates of products and one who can understand that BETA is not satisfactory for business operations. This is the hurdle that needs to be removed for me to accept OSS as a viable solution.

Interestingly, it's the same problem I have come across in science staff - good, relevant experienced management is hard to come by - nearly all are excellently qualified granular-focused folk who unfortunately don't understand the bigger business picture. Doesn't mean they can't do a job, just not a management job.

Re:Would love to... (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946255)

Just goes to show that anything can be implemented badly...
Where i work we have 2 separate networks serving different parts of the company, one is all OSS while the other is primarily MS based.
The OSS one is faster, has better uptime, cost very little to build (runs entirely on hardware that was discarded by the MS oriented staff), and requires minimal maintenance. Users don't really notice any difference until something goes wrong, which happens far less frequently on the OSS network. The bean counters notice because of how under-budget the OSS based network is.

The MS guys are jealous of some of the fancy kit we have to play with, but we've still spent a lot less overall.

Re:Would love to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946559)

M$ is actually the better solution if you don't have anyone capable of managing the technology - there're too many options in open source softwares so if you have someone inexperienced managing your systems he'll easily be spending time on trial and error.

Re:Would love to... (1)

indiejade (850391) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946673)

Maybe you've not looked hard enough? It does exist, but what most OSS lacks is marketing/promo budget. That is why comprehensive lists like this [zentu.net] (eCommerce, ERP, and Business Enterprise) are good. ;)

Re:Would love to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25947059)

Contact Optaros.com. They should be able to help.

Re:Would love to... (3, Funny)

xs650 (741277) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947109)

"Would love to save $$$ with OSS, but the software I need (robust, full-featured POS..."

With that requirement, it would be hard to beat Microsoft's offings.

Big Mistake (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945483)

If you use open source software you are just going to end up with herpes on your face and AIDS in your ass.

Vista? (0, Flamebait)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945489)

Why not use Vista?...people seem very keen to off-load it...there must be loads going for free!

Web Filter (2, Informative)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945519)

I've implemented Dansguardian webfiltering with a squid proxy on an unused Mac OS X server to placate my bosses need to control everyone's surfing habit and keep the cost of doing so at $0.

Re:Web Filter (2, Insightful)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945635)

You weren't paid?

Re:Web Filter (2, Funny)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945693)

The agreement was that his web-surfing was not to be filtered.

Re:Web Filter (1)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945783)

Good point.. I guess that's why I'm the only one allowed on /. Actually, the interesting part is that no one else in the company understands *nix environments, nor how to add or remove what can or can't be seen. It's a real problem with cross training... but job security for me.

Re:Web Filter (1)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945727)

Yes, but if I hadn't done it, I still would have been paid for researching and saying 'it can't be done for less than $$$'. Then going back to telling users they need to restart and jiggle the cord.

Re:Web Filter (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946301)

As a salaried employee, he will be paid wether he implements a new proxy or not. If he has no other work to do at the time he would just be sitting idle so yes, the relative cost really could be $0.

Re:Web Filter (1)

Hobb3s (1016023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945689)

We also use Open Office for our Mac Clients, Filezilla for FTP transfers, 7zip for zipping and the like, and a number of other smaller simple applications for specific tasks.

Corporate Bureaucracy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945521)

It's not to much that they're opting for free, it's just easier to download and install something that's free to use than to go through the corporate bureaucracy of requesting a software license. I've been waiting 3 months for Dreamweaver (we migrated to Macs and no one thought to think that the licenses weren't transferable from PC's...) and had to find free alternatives to get some damn work done.

Re:Corporate Bureaucracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945925)

..and had to find free alternatives to get some damn work done

Interesting... what usually happens to me is that I get myself thinking of ways of getting work not done.

Re:Corporate Bureaucracy (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945939)

What alternatives to DW did you find? The best I could find was Eclipse with plugins for php and sftp. It works pretty well, but it's not as clean a solution as I'd like since Eclipse just wasn't built for web programming.

Re:Corporate Bureaucracy (2, Funny)

suggsjc (726146) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947097)

I've personally found that vi(m) is the best development tool around. You can say that DW/Eclipse saves you time with auto-completion and whatnot, but as for me and my sites, I take pride in the fact that I have typed every single character.

Re:Corporate Bureaucracy (1)

tbuddy23 (1178415) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946679)

Since Adobe's purchase of Macromedia I have always been provided with both keys for Windows and Mac version. I would bet two shiny nickels that you could upgrade to CS4 with what you have and get a key for the Macintosh versions.

I wonder (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945555)

Besides Slashdot how much FOSS does Slashdot use?
Do they use Asterisk for it's phone system? Or does it's parent company do all the "business" stuff for them and just let write perl and post articles?

Re:I wonder (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946007)

slashdot is a marque site, but not particularly profitable. VA Linux or whatever they're called now, makes moet of their money selling source forge, which is closed source and proprietary. Slashdot runs on MySQL, and they have dedicated MySQL programmers who have customized it. I've heard they've kept their patches to themselves. (To be fair, if they're as incompetent as the perl/web programmers, that's probably for the best.)

Re:I wonder (3, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946111)

You use it where it is feasible and where it can be supported. At the financial company I work at, we are about to move to Asterisk (mainly because conferencing calls cost the company thousands of dollars each year). We have started dynamically creating our PDF's through a LAMP app instead of using a Windows app and closed source BIN for PDF generation. But all of these are supported and maintained in house. If they have the STAFF to support them, then I say do it. If they have the money to get someone else to support it, then I say do it. Otherwise, as a business, their best bet is to stay where the support and maintenance is... not even open source supporters can be all open source; we'd like to do everything ourselves but the fact of the matter is there just aren't enough hours in the day.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946561)

I think they are big on Office and Exchange there.

Sure (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945567)

I LOVE to use open Source projects. More Open Source is needed. My project? Open Source? Are you mad????!!! I need to eat too.

TCO not always lower (4, Interesting)

NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945627)

I used to think the TCO argument was rubbish. But then I did some research this year on bug tracking software for my company. At least in this one area, it was obvious that while you'd save a few hundred initially on open source solutions, these solutions were much less polished and supported than their commercial competitors. I would have had to do a lot of additional installations and customization to get things working right. And there was no quick answer from a tech support email address when I would have trouble. And in another recent purchase of music production software, the open source versions were an absolute joke in comparison to commercial varieties. Open source is great. I use Firefox and Open Office all the time. But for business and specialty applications, commercial applications are still often much more solid and cheaper in the long run.

Re:TCO not always lower (3, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945861)

I think the source of this trouble is that when you use exceptionally popular programs like FireFox or 7zip you're seeing software that really isn't representative of FOSS. These are definitely in the top 99%.

When you start digging down into niche software that serves a tiny market segment you're getting into an area where few people are interested in using it and even fewer are interested in contributing. I do agree that these areas are currently best served by commercial apps. The whole FOSS thing works because so many people are contributing and it's easy to get support from one of the masses of people using it or working on it. On smaller projects you find yourself doing your own support - which isn't necessarily awful, it's just a real time sink.

Re:TCO not always lower (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946399)

Yes, niche software is far less likely to be covered...
But in those cases, i would still like to run the niche software on linux, If i have to pay for the apps then so be it, the underlying OS is not a niche product and i shouldn't have to pay for that as well, just like i shouldn't have to buy proprietary hardware for a generic purpose (i want it to run on standard hardware, tho specialized peripherals are ok if its really necessary).

Re:TCO not always lower (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947273)

You know, saying something is in "the top 99%" isn't really a ringing endorsement of the product...

Do warn them (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945725)

I hope your risk assessment includes that if any open source libraries makes it into your software products, your company is dead and everyone is out the door. This because the goal is not money but the removal of proprietary software.

Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946139)

But it's okay to use unlicensed proprietary software, right? I'm sure Microsoft won't mind; it's not like they have teams of lawyers ready to put you out of business.

Re:Do warn them (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946479)

How many companies make software products? I'm willing to bet the vast majority don't...
And even then, it's often permissible to link against OSS libraries without giving away the source of the program (you may have to distribute the library, which is open anyway).

But speaking of risk assessment, i hope your risk assessment of proprietary software includes the risks of not having a second source, because there is very little proprietary software for which a second source vendor is available if the first one goes bankrupt. And as you've nodoubt seen on the news lately, even the biggest companies can easily go bust.

Obligatory question (4, Insightful)

fgaliegue (1137441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945739)

And what about the _total_ cost of ownership?

I'm all for open source software, don't get me wrong, but switching from a known solution that Works For You(tm) even though it's horribly expensive to a $0 one but with a steep learning curve can be disastrous.

Would you replace Oracle with PostgreSQL if "all" you had in house were Oracle gurus?

I know, this is one example, others may not be that extreme. But taking this kind of decision has to be done with some caution.

Re:Obligatory question (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945943)

Would you replace Oracle with PostgreSQL if "all" you had in house were Oracle gurus?

I'd view that as being similar to replacing AIX or Solaris with Linux -- and that's something that plenty of companies have done successfully.

It does require retraining, it may involve buying support contracts, but it's proved worthwhile for many companies.

Re:Obligatory question (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945949)

Well yes, people are tied down. TCO is not something very accurate all the time, though.

This is why adoption of open source in businesses has not been as fast as it could be.

That doesn't mean however that businesses are blind to the option of not paying licensing fees and being able to fix software with their own dev team/make improvements aka using open source.

Re:Obligatory question (1)

andy19 (1250844) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946087)

Think about the costs of renewing licences, or buying more if your company grows.
In the long run, I'd expect the FOSS setup to be cheaper, even if there is a high cost to migrate and train people.

Re:Obligatory question (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946237)

As you say, it depends. I'm moving two data warehouse setups from Oracle on Solaris to MySQL on CentOS Linux. I had a small problem with UTF-8 and of course rewriting truck loads of SQL statements, but over all it was worth it. The commodity hardware that CentOS is running on is 1/3 the cost of comparable Sun hardware. The maintenance cost burden of Solaris, Sun, and Oracle far outweigh the costs involved in the change over. Going forward the in-house staff are switching to the new OS/database with grace. Perl runs equally well on both the old and the new.

One might argue that an Oracle guru that is unable to move to MySQL or PostgreSQL is probably not 'the' best in-house resource you could have. Training is worth the effort and cost. Remember, if you invest in your people the payback is compound. If you invest in OS and apps, you will always be limited to what people you can hire. With training, limitations are reduced for the company overall. You retain skill sets, gain new ones, and have an improved manpower resource pool. All of that at less cost than maintaining the status quo in many cases.

TCO is difficult to compute as a one size fits all answer. From what I've seen, in many cases F/OSS does have a lower TCO and increased benefit to those who choose it.

Re:Obligatory question (4, Funny)

lewp (95638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946329)

Good point. This is why the ultimate cost saver is to switch from commercial software to pirated commercial software.

Re:Obligatory question (1)

Ploum (632141) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946357)

Yes because gurus should be able to learn new things.

The problem with proprietary solutions is not the cost : it's that you are tight by the balls !

If you have Oracle Gurus and you don't want to switch because of that, your gurus will become even more expert in Oracle only and you will hire only Oracle gurus making the situation even worse regarding an eventual migration.

You must always keep in mind that the question is not "Will the migration happen" but "When will it happen".

If you choose it deliberately, at least you have time, you can prepare, you can choose the best moment for it.

If not, you are just playing with fire and waiting for one of :
- Oracle change the licensing scheme for one that you cannot afford
- Oracle just declares bankrupcy (don't say it will never happen and look for examples of company that were "too big to fail")
- Oracle new version remove a feature that is essential to your business
- Oracle drop support for the version essential to your business

Of course those problem could happen with a free software product but :
1) There's a fairly good chance that the community could handle, at least for some time, a lot of the support
2) You can choose to support it yourself for your internal use and to correct/add what you need

In the worst case, it gives you a lot more time to prepare a migration and it makes your business solid and not "one-product-only" dependant.

Re:Obligatory question (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946501)

> Would you replace Oracle with PostgreSQL if "all" you had in house were Oracle gurus?

If your in house Oracle people can't quickly adapt to a new OS or new RDBMS then they aren't really gurus.

Re:Obligatory question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25947073)

So you say someone who is smart and learned to handle Oracle for decades, just reads the manual of another RDBMS for a few hours and can handle that as effective as his old one...

Re:Obligatory question (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947495)

No. But if someone has just learned lots of stuff by rote without picking up any transferable concepts, I'd say he's not a guru. More like a monkey, albeit one with a good memory.

Re:Obligatory question (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946595)

In the current market, unemployment is rising, costs are rising...
Using cheaper software is a good way to save money...
If that cheaper software requires more staff, hiring those staff is comparatively easier in the current market, and the savings from free software could easily pay for a few staff while still saving you money in a medium to large company.

And consider long term savings, once you have postgres competent staff on hand the choice to make future deployments on postgres is a no brainer.

Also using something that doesn't lock you in to a single supplier is extremely sensible in the long term.

Re:Obligatory question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946999)

Are your Oracle gurus unable or unwilling to learn a new technology? If so, then I'd hardly consider them gurus.

Another obligatory question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25947489)

> Would you replace Oracle with PostgreSQL if "all" you had in house were Oracle gurus?

Can you afford to do that?

Things change, change is inevitable and then... is it wise not to know something?

Companies which have had the resources to do so and which have ordered someone to learn about open source apps won't be putting all eggs in the same basket. It's funny if you everyone on the same boat and the trip is uneventful.

Not so funny when a storm approaches.

Can any company really afford to adopt a single solution, be it onerous or inexpensive?

Even if you like best one office suite, it's better to have both. Even moreso if one of them is free as in beer.

silver lining for who? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945855)

This is a race to the bottom. I'm not syaing Open Source is the cause or the problem (it isn't), just a unintended benificiary (at least in mindshare). But the overall trend is bad for everyone.

Re:silver lining for who? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947319)

If the same amount of software is getting put into companies with less money spent it is a good thing for everyone not making money selling software. It either reduces the cost of end products for everybody, or frees up money for investment in better products.

Much the way that industrialization improved things for everyone not weaving by hand.

"Alternative"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945879)

So what is MySQL an open-source "alternative" to? It seems to me like it's a very different kind of product from its proprietary "competitors."

Re:"Alternative"? (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946067)

Time was, MySQL was an open source alternative to 'non-enterprise' DBs like FoxPro. Now it's a viable alternative to Oracle or DB2 in certain circumstances where the high end commercial features are overkill.

Re:"Alternative"? (3, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946375)

A spoon is a viable alternative to a shovel in certain circumstances like eating soup.

Re:"Alternative"? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946751)

Many people for a long time have insisted on eating soup with a shovel.

MySQL and Postgres taking over from Oracle aren't so much about how
good or bad either of those 2 products are. It's more a matter of
companies finally regaining a little sanity and realizing that they
should not overpay for small things based on brand name recognition.

Oracle is quite frequently gross overkill where it's employed.

It may even be deployed in a manner that fails to exploit any
of it's advantages over the likes of mysql or postgres.

This may perhaps be more a matter of people and companies no longer "living large".

Re:"Alternative"? (1)

digitalgiblet (530309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946759)

I'd hate to dig a big trench with a spoon.

Especially if my competitors are using shovels.

The trick is matching the tool to the task.

Note that I am not saying Oracle is the shovel and MySQL is the spoon. The previous posts reduced the argument to abstracts. This makes the argument applicable to many areas, not just the current discussion.

Decide for yourself which tools are shovels and which are spoons, then match them to the job at hand.

What non-free software do you have? (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25945907)

Without telling us what non-free applications are currently being used, it's a very difficult question to answer.

If I were starting a business tomorrow, I can't think of a single piece of commercial software I'd standardise on.

Partly because I'm stingy when it comes to software. Partly because I don't want license management to become a headache as the business grows.

Re:What non-free software do you have? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946745)

Partly because I don't want license management to become a headache as the business grows. This i the biggest factor for me favoring open source solutions. I remember calling our MS Rep, and a few others, 3 people gave me 3 different answers about how to license MS SQL Server. (per processor, or how many seats). Total pain in the ass. Its funny, but I've never seen a TCO calculation take into consideration how much time and money you have to spend to ensure that you are in compliance. For larger companies, its almost impossible to ensure two employees didn't buy some off the shelf software and install it.

One thing I have always thought was interesting, was that MS doesn't write/sell any software to track licensing compliance themselves. I used to think that was a mistake on their part, but after hearing/seeing how much it nets them in audits, it was a genius move on their part!

How about GIMP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25945927)

GIMP is a nice alternative to photoshop. Although it does have a ways to go (such as with CMYK support, although see http://www.blackfiveservices.co.uk/separate.shtml), it is very powerful piece of software. In some ways, GIMP is better than photoshop (such as in its pre-render speed). For many users, GIMP provides all the "photoshop" they need, all at the low price of free. Although GIMP will not work for all companies (yet), it may well be worth it for certain companies to look in to it.

Re:How about GIMP? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946189)

depending on what you do, Paint.net [getpaint.net] is a decent low end alternative. I compare it to the slightly older versions of Paint Shop Pro, but they've supposedly added a lot of functionality in the last few versions, closing the Photoshop functionality gap a bit. It's native to windows, and having tested both GIMP and this, has a much less steep 'getting used to it' curve.

Many starters to free(er) software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25946017)

free, as in beer, not stuck to any location, not locked-in, etc. Here are some starters to current state and future directions of making computing really much more free: http://freedomdrive.org

Open Source cost saving (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946021)

Server side the savings are pretty obvious, especially around maintenance contracts. On the desktop its much harder as you have all the transition and training costs. Looking at things like SugarCRM, rather than Salesforce.com, is a grey area as you have to pay for the implementation rather than just renting.

Oh hang on its Slashdot and we aren't going to worry about the actual business change, implementation or management side of it, we just want to see two list prices compared and be able to go "OSS is free".

The crunch will help OSS, especially as a CapEx reduction strategy. That is the sales pitch even if it increases the OpEx as right now Cash is king. If you can build a case that does OpEx and CapEx then you are completely sorted.

Works for me (4, Interesting)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946045)

Ever since I started using Nagios, I've been able to slowly help the rest of the IT department consider open source when starting projects. Now we use Nagios, Backuppc, MySQL, Perl, Splunk, Snare and Ubuntu LTS for servers. The clincher was not having to pay for licensing for a SQL server, OS and all. We're all so tired of dealing with the behemoth of a licensing scheme that Microsoft uses, and that's really what pushed us to alternatives.

Migration doesn't sound like cost cutting. (0)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946137)

How is migration and re-training a cost cutting measure? So, you need to either fire your old IT guys and hire on new ones OR pay for training to have them switch to a new architecture? That's cheaper?

In order for these licenses to even be cheaper we're talking about companies dropping their support contracts altogether and using unsupported IT infrastructures. Any company that plans on "saving money" by switching to an unsupported and "community-developed" system for a commercial infrastructure in order to somehow save money is going to get slapped hard- and it's completely their fault.

The real answer here is that it's got more to do with sociology than with business or software. They're simply switching to free software because it looks good in a PowerPoint presentation and gives them something to do other than get fired.

IT is in a rough situation here, they can just keep their existing legacy infrastructures and just keep on as many IT people as they need to maintain it until the market improves; or they can turn to a hip new bleeding edge linux installation that's unstable, poorly undocumented, and full of unanticipated caveats- IT people won't just keep their jobs, they'll have to hire on an army of new people to keep their servers from detonating in lieu of that missing support contract.

Who needs a vendor that can issue quick security and bug patches to major clients when your job's on the line? With linux, IT is always busy and therefore indispensable!

COMMON SENSE COST CUTTING TIPS: Do not upgrade or migrate your IT infrastructure until the financial situation improves. Linux/F/OSS is mostly supported by angel investors and Sun Microsystems, both of which are in terrible shape due to stock market failure. Migrate to linux when the market is in GOOD shape so that it is being maintained, otherwise Windows Server will be innovating faster. If you are adding just a couple new machines, just spring for a couple extra Windows/Solaris/AIX licenses. Do a cost benefits analysis, this is most definitely cheaper. There's nothing more expensive than changing everything, even when it's free!

ALSO, Your employees WILL need to be re-trained to use Evolution instead of Outlook or Openoffice instead of Microsoft Office-- they only look similar when you start them up. The finer points are very different to a non-technical employee. Openoffice.org 3.0 is similar feature-wise to Microsoft Office 2000 or 2003, so it's better to just skip the upgrade to 2007 and wait out the financial crisis in comfortable productivity.

Re:Migration doesn't sound like cost cutting. (3, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946419)

Linux/F/OSS is mostly supported by angel investors and Sun Microsystems

This is just completely wrong. Most open source projects have no outside investors at all, but are either maintained on a developer's free or salaried time. IBM, Apple, and Google, for example, have hundreds of employees who contribute to open source projects on company time.

I don't know why you would think so many projects would be backed by angel investors when those projects would return nothing financially on their investment.

Re:Migration doesn't sound like cost cutting. (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946727)

ALSO, Your employees WILL need to be re-trained to use Evolution instead of Outlook or Openoffice instead of Microsoft Office

I've read this argument over and over again: employees need training in order to use basic software. But is this really true?

I've worked quite a few jobs that all involved office-type computer work and I've never ever received any form of training for the software that I had to use. I wonder how many employees out there really have been trained in working with the software they use. I'm guessing: not a whole lot.

Get rid of Exchange and SharePoint (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25946733)

Exchange and SharePoint are huge money-suckers. There are plenty of open source alternatives, such as Citadel [citadel.org] and Kolab [kolab.org] and OpenGroupware [opengroupware.org]. Give them a try and get that migration started.

Re:Get rid of Exchange and SharePoint (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947241)

...but if you switch to Citadel on a single little server, what are you going to do with the dozens of redundant Exchange servers? Think of the hardware!

We're Doing It (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 5 years ago | (#25947239)

JSF [sun.com], RichFaces [jboss.org], Hibernate [hibernate.org], MySQL [mysql.com], developed on NetBeans [netbeans.org] and served by Apache TomCat [apache.org] on CentOS [centos.org] for a state government contract.

We have to train ourselves, but that's half the fun.

The other half will be when we pull the plug on one legacy Oracle database with a per CPU cycle license the state is paying an obscene amount of money for.

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