What your own open source census can get you

Open source does not do its best work in the dark corners, but in the light of day. That's where you'll realize the value, when your own people can share knowledge, and you get to share with the wider world.

Open Source Census Logo from osscensus.org
As the Open Source Census grinds on (over 250,000 installations so far) it occurs to me just how useful it can be for an enterprise to participate.

You might learn something you can profit from.

At CIO India, for instance, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz tells the story of a financial firm which thought it had no open source at all, only to discover it had 1,300 downloads of mySQL.

Schwartz used this teaching moment to make a sale, but such revelations can mean more than a ka-ching in a vendor's bank account.

They can point the way to big savings for you.

In the case noted above open source came in through the back door, serreptitiously. It's not just that users lacked support, many probably didn't know who else was using. Open source was illicit.

But when enterprise open source use comes out of the closet (so to speak) miracles occur. You  find yourself with a vast internal user group. You may even find you can replace some proprietary tools with open source alternatives. And you've opened up conversations both inside and outside your shop.

Open source does not do its best work in the dark corners, but in the light of day. That's where you'll realize the value, when your own people can share knowledge, and you get to share with the wider world.

It's not just a question of downloading and using. It's a question of sharing and improving. This activity exists in the proprietary world, too. It's just easier in an open source environment.

So do join the census, and do check around. The results will surprise you. And opening yourself up fully to the open source process will both save you money and spur productivity. Guaranteed.

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