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Commentary: Using open source as a bargaining chip?

Want a discount from Microsoft? Fran Foo says it's just a matter of leaking your "intent" on adopting open source to the press.

It has reached such a silly stage that soon, if your neighbourhood kebab shop were to adopt Linux, that too could make the front page.

What's basically happening is a simple case of media manipulation by customers because in three months, one-third of Windows server software contracts with Microsoft's largest global clients will be up for renewal.

"The two things Microsoft does not want to hear are open source and Linux. Even if a customer isn't interested in investigating or deploying Microsoft alternatives, it's a great way to get some discounts," said one Sydney-based IT manager.

Operating systems and server software aren't the only products being used as bait. Of late, even open-source database products have joined the race, and one good example is mySQL.

mySQL, which sells a namesake open-source database offering, has been gaining a lot of traction in the U.S.. Although it hasn't made much impact in Australia, there have been pockets of installations around the country for many years.

In the meantime, Meta Group analyst Michael Barnes is keeping an eye on the open-source database market.

"Right now, only very few leading-edge organisations are looking at open-source databases," said Barnes, vice president for Meta's technology research services in Asia-Pacific.

"The reality is that open-source databases don't have a critical mass of solutions or solution partners yet," he said, but warned that over time, this could change.

"Organisations that are aggresive in pursuing open source tend to be larger [companies] and more techinically focused. I think that we'll have a several-year lag before you see actual commercial impact on the market," Barnes noted.

For IT professionals, the trick is to cull the "right" information -- fashion your arguments for IT budgets after solid statistics or case studies and not fatuous media reports.

Fran Foo is the editor of ZDNet Australia Insight.