Chris J Powell

Open Source in the Enterprise

Companies around the globe are leveraging the power of Open Source Applications and Infrastructure solutions on a daily basis.  Things like Apache Web Server, Firefox Web Browser, Pidgin Communicator and WordPress are used without question of their origin, status or the fact that the capability of the services provided are indeed Open Source but there still seems to be a stigma that surrounds the world of Open Source.

Open Source in the Enterprise does not need to be a dirty little secret.  Earlier this year, Barclays announced that they had cut nearly 90% of their software spend by driving towards more Open Source applications.  In an article with V3, a spokesperson for Barclays stated that while they were continuing to work with existing vendors they:

“We’ve been making significant savings in our technology platform by doing a lot of the work in house to develop and launch our own applications rapidly,”

This is a massive company that has reaches into both Finance and Insurance and by all accounts can be considered a premier brand by any consideration.  In their 2012 financial report they showed an adjusted Profit of £7 Billion+ ($10.75 Billion USD) and reports in The Sunday Times  will save Billions by slashing their relationship with Microsoft, Oracle, Google and SAP.

Saving Billions is every IT Leaders dream but how can that become a reality?  Just making the switch will cost money in training, down time and all the other associated development costs right?  Well yes that is not in question, the long term gain is savings and there will be short term pains while IT Professionals and the business adjust to the new paradigm but the reality is, even though Free is not necessarily Free…it is far more affordable in most cases than the alternative.

A long time favorite site of mine has been the Enterprise Open Source site which is a masterful collection of Open Source Projects that have been tested and verified to be Enterprise Ready.  Currently their Top 10 list includes:

  1. Alfresco
  2. KnowlegeTree
  3. Pentaho
  4. Nuxeo EP
  5. phpBB
  6. Darwin Kernel
  7. vtiger CRM
  8. Apache HTTP Server
  9. MySQL
  10. Nagios

I have used most of these solutions in the list at one time or another but I was intrigued by Nuxeo and Darwin Kernel being on this list.

Looking to Nuxeo, this alternative to SharePoint or other Enterprise Content Management Solution appears to be robust and complete.  It is a full featured setup that has modules for Document Management, Social Collaboration, Digital Asset Management and Case Management Framework.  Because of my Digital Library I had been considering tying my recent Hadoop connection to Alfresco but the simplicity of Nuxeo very quickly became a top option for sorting and cataloging more than 4.5 TB of Digital Media for me.

The Darwin Kernel though is interesting as it is the foundation for Mac OSX.  As just a Kernel, it is not as freely downloadable as other Apps listed in the Top 10 List but it does open the world to open development on the Mac OS X platform and an interesting item that I did learn is that there are more than 200 Active Open Source Projects that are included with the current release…so maybe my hate on Apple is starting to relax…no that is not going to happen as I can not install it on my AMD Based computer for one reason only…Apple said I can’t and designed it to be an impossibility making OSX closed in my mind and not open…Done!  But it is cool that they do support and foster the roots that built them by sharing back to the BSD family!

The future for Open Source in the Enterprise is interesting to say the least, and as more companies look to benefit from having an extra Billion Dollars around…I suspect that the move and push will start to accelerate.

If you know of a good story of a company going Open Source, I would love to here it.  Shoot me a comment over at the Contact Us Page.


Chris J Powell

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8 thoughts on “Open Source in the Enterprise

    • Risk is something that should be factored in to EVERY Project. Most of the time though, there is not even consideration placed on OSS because of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) placed on OSS by the major players. The times are changing though as there is more and more real opportunities being built and there is a real opportunity for progressive and innovative IT Leaders to leverage OSS as not another project, but an opportunity to drive a new revenue stream.

  1. Good information, Chris. Gartner have, as far as I know, consistently said that Open Source in the Enterprise has a far higher TCO. Have you read any of their findings, and what comment do you have.

    • Yes, Gartner does say that the TCO is higher and in some cases it is. My colleagues coined a phrase…Free as in Puppies, but the reality is, the support and maintenance of a Closed Source Application can be far more daunting than that of most OSS projects. The focus for my upcoming work in this space will be to really focus on both the hard costs as well as the soft costs (compatibility, training and portability) of Open Source.

  2. An IT expert is as necessary in today’s business world as the lawyer & tax accountant. Great infor to think about but I will say the giants of today try to direct the business world, letting some in and doing its best to keep others out. Many of us follow blindly and become trapped in what we created!

    • The changing face of IT today means that an IT Professional must always be looking to add value to the business. Regardless of what role they play. The actions of a Network Administrator that puts the company first can have as much impact as a CIO with an MBA. Focus must come first! The Openness of the world today and the ability to Share is what lead me to my love of Open Source and the future is looking brighter and brighter. Thanks for the comment.

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