The post riffs off a Tech & Learning piece by Randy Orwin, an open source advocate in Washington state, who concluded that "free is not free" and large-scale open soruce implementations are difficult.
I have been working on the question of technology in education for 21 years, since my first child was born. I have concluded that education offers great lessons for all enterprises, especially as it has begun using open source.
I found enterprise technology in education was a dead loss before the game became Internet access. Client technology changes too fast, I learned. The moment teachers were trained on "multimedia" their tools and skills were obsolete. Only by moving to online resources that upgrade themselves could the investment begin to make sense.
Education, in other words, is an enterprise buyer.
What enterprise buyers want are desktops and applications offering workforce productivity and plenty of back-end Internet capacity. Schools and offices aren't that different.
So the lessons Dawson offers can be applied generally.
Open source is a make-or-buy decision. If you go with open source make certain you have the expertise on-staff to make things work.
Centralize operations and automate the pushing and updating of applications.
Before choosing an open source solution make certain you're prepared to be part of an open source community.
I would add that the solution you choose may also drive your best-and-brightest. In a conventional enterprise this is your IT shop. In a school setting this is your computer club geeks. If your system is running Linux, that's what they will learn.
The difference between a school and a conventional enterprise is what happens to that expertise. In most businesses it sticks around. In school it graduates.
So what do you want your smartest kids to become, users or doers? That should offset some of the implied "costs" of open source.