Open source Net support not enough for business

Open source Net support not enough for business

Summary: Businesses should not expect that the open source community will always provide it with the patches and fixes required to deliver business-grade application support, according to a panel of open source advocates speaking at CeBIT in Sydney.

TOPICS: Open Source, Linux, CEBIT
Businesses should not expect that the open source community will always provide it with the patches and fixes required to deliver business-grade application support, according to a panel of open source advocates speaking at CeBIT in Sydney.

Jonathan Oxer, President of Linux Australia Inc, said that while the open source community is still capable of supporting businesses by quickly creating new code in response to requests posted online for bug fixes or functionality upgrades, businesses should not expect this form of support will be forthcoming for applications.

"You can still post to the Net and get amazing code in a few hours," Oxer said, before adding that the breadth of open source software makes it increasingly unlikely that this kind of support can be expected to serve as a business-grade service.

Oxer instead recommended that businesses intending to use open source applications work with services companies that specialise in the applications they desire. The investment in expertise and service capability such companies make, he said, will mean they can support open source applications faster than the community alone. The result of this kind of relationship, he added, will be greater innovation than is possible using customisable commercial business software, which he asserted restricts the amount of adaptation possible to business' specific needs.

Another panellist, Cybersource CEO Con Zymaris, said he believes this kind of scenario is not fully appreciated by businesses, which are yet to factor the increasingly professional and voluminous pool of open source service companies into their risk management decision matrices.

Calling current risk management practises as regards appraisal of open source software "immature," Zymaris praised AGIMO's recent open source procurement guide as an important step towards helping business understand how to assess the merits of open source software.

"Get your hands on a copy," he told the audience. "It will change the way you think about open source."

David Purdue, President of the Australian Unix User Group, also participated in the panel and advocated open source software as the most powerful way to spread open standards, and thereby increase interoperability between systems.

Simon Sharwood moderated the panel.

Topics: Open Source, Linux, CEBIT

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  • Commercial support is not guaranteed either

    How many organizations out there have bought critical software and then discovered that the company that sold it went out of business or dropped support for it without notifying them well ahead of time? MILLIONS. The fact is, commercial software support is rarely better than that of the open source community, and is oftentimes much much worse. In addition, if that company you bought that critical closed source software from goes out of business, you are completely out of luck. Had you gone with open source, on the other hand, you would have the source code and would have the option of taking over the development yourself or hiring a consultant to do it for you.
  • Commercial support is not guaranteed either

    I think that was the point of the article.
    If you buy proprietary software and the developer goes out of business you're in a bad way, but if you buy "packaged support services" from a vendor supporting open source technology, the SOURCE CODE will remain in the public domain - and if the support services you are buying are worth paying for the source code will be well enough documented that you can go to a "new" "open source support services" vendor who will be able to provide equal support of the system.

    There will be chaos - that's inevidible especially if your first vendor folds overnight - but it will be easier than if your proprietary system dissapears overnight.
  • A bit rich

    From the ZDNet email regarding this story: "More confidence-shaking news was delivered at CeBIT in Sydney this week, when a presenters at a panel on open source suggested that businesses may not always to be able to rely on the Web for support."

    Shock horror!

    A bit rich, I'd say. All that was said at CeBIT is that its a prudent step to get specialists on-board with a vested interest in helping your business problems in particular, rather than the specialists out there in "the Web" who have an interest in improving the software generally (but are not particularly concerned about you).

    I'd call that a no-brainer. If you need tighter turn-around times and business-specific outcomes, its a good idea to pay someone to do it for you. If you are willing to chance it on someone out there feeling generous, that's fair enough too.