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Study Urges CIOs To Choose Open Source First 95

littlekorea writes "A new study has urged CIOs to consider open source over proprietary software or public cloud services when replacing legacy gear. But the study's author, Professor Jim Norton, warns that open source won't be a cure-all for some companies. From the article: ' Open source software, Norton said, provides enterprise IT with easier access to innovation via a "great global self-re-enforcing community of shared resources, ideas and development." That same community provides a faster response to changes in customer preferences communicated on social networks or via business analytics, and faster resolution of common system problems.'"
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Study Urges CIOs To Choose Open Source First

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  • Publication bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:02PM (#41358519)

    All studies urging CIOs to prefer "professional solutions" -- not published on /.

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      And are probably not published at all.

      I wouldn't expect most CIO's to be broadcasting to the world their costing estimates or disclosing the full extent of their IT infrastructure etc.

      Besides, it really does matter on a company by company basis - what works for your company may not work for mine, so as much as generic studies like this can be a useful piece of the puzzle they aren't the final word for any specific outfit.

      • Beyond this, there is the code debt to consider... banking and airlines rely heavily on mainframe system backends to this day because of the debt and colossal effort change or migration would take.. many solutions to do so fail, or are lipstick on a pig... I've been pushing for some platform migrations for some time... I wrote a service at work in NodeJS in about 180 lines of code, that would have taken a lot more in most other platforms (Java, .Net etc) ... it's been a bit of a beach-head movement where s
    • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:26PM (#41358645)
      How about studies of AC first posters with nothing worthwhile to say resorting to the predictably boring ad hominem?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think ad hominem means what you think it does.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Hur dur. Yeah, railing against Slashdot for not showing the studies you want to see rather than arguing against the study highlighted if you disagree is pretty much textbook example of an ad hominem. Keep trying though, sparky.
          • A statement of fact is not an ad hominem.
            • To be clearer, since what I just said makes no sense, this would be a strawman if anything. And to my original post, he's right, even though it still may be a fallacy.
              • by PNutts ( 199112 )

                To be clearer, since what I just said makes no sense,

                I don't know why, but this really cracks me up.

            • It could be. Whether or not the statement is a fact has nothing to do with whether or not it is an ad hominem.
              • Exactly. A fact unrelated to the issue at hand that sheds a negative light on the source is still an ad hominem.
          • by PNutts ( 199112 )

            His claim is bias, nothing more. Here's a textbook example of ad hominem [].

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              You clearly have nothing valuable to say, because you put stock in wikipedia... have you never heard of wikiality? ;)

              But yes... as others have said, it's a strawman if anything, but it's a statement of fact, so not really a strawman at all. Slashdot *does* have a publication bias, just as *every* "news" outlet has one. The good ones know they have a bias and admit to it so that you can adjust your perception accordingly. The bad ones claim to be fair and balanced and free of bias. Here, they pander to the f

            • Of course somebody with a name like "PNutts" would say that!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      All studies urging CIOs to prefer "professional solutions" -- not published on /.

      Thats as stupid as complaining that "Most people are still alive" when reading a story about 100 people killed by a new airborne AIDS virus. It's news exactly because it contradicts the majority opinion.

  • Commercial support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:16PM (#41358611)

    CIOs buy open source tools all the time - and they pay RedHat or Oracle to support them. However - no CIO is going to spend real dollars, dollars which will get him fired, on unsupported software, no matter how cool the user forums are.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:29PM (#41358659)

      Real CIOs spend dollars on officially-unsupported software all the time in commercial companies, successfully. They do it by hiring real talent that can manage open source software stacks internally (do their own bug-hunting and upstream contributions).

      • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @12:41AM (#41358989) Journal

        Actually, they do it all the time by keeping outdated and unsupported pieces of software around instead of updating to the latest and greatest for the sake of doing it. This can be open or closed source software. I do not know how many windows XP workstations I run across on a daily basis not because the software running on them will only run on XP or the systems will not support windows 7 (some will not though), but because getting some piece of software to run on windows 7 requires an upgrade that costs thousands and there is no legit reason to justify it until it is necessary (No features needed or wanted outside of working on windows 7 reliably).

        Hell, I have two application suits that can be upgraded right now under the existing support contracts (one of which I can get no live support outside of knowledge base articles if I do not upgrade) but it will not happen because the companies will not authorize the budget to do the upgrades. They are in a maintenance mode waiting on the economy to turn up more or something.

        It's not just about competent employees or open verses closed source software, it is about saving a buck, backwards compatibility and so on too.

        • by SpzToid ( 869795 )

          Just wondering, but wouldn't it be worth it for the sake of oh, I don't know, lower hardware and space costs, energy, backup costs, ongoing risk, etc.) to virtualize those XP workstations to run in a more modern environment? As a small-business linux guy, I personally find the most cost-effective way to run any Windows requirement is by using virtual machines.

          To try to answer my own question, I suppose not, because doing nothing at this point is currently perceived as the lowest-cost, lowest-risk option in

          • This might not be the GPs problem, but in my office, the reason for not upgrading is tied to expensive hardware that doesn't support the newer version of Windows or has known issues on everything except one configuration of Windows and PC.

            We're an engineering company, so a lot of the issues have to do with compatibility with hardware that is custom or rare... so, our experience may not be typical.

          • It's all tied to expense. The companies I work with/for are small shops with less then 50 employees who do not develop in house except for maybe their web page if you could count that. They instead rely on industry specific proprietary software. Some of this software will just work for everything they need so they do not budget the expense of someone upgrading it or the costs of purchasing the upgrades.

            Usually after about 2-3 years, they drop the support contracts for it because nothing has gone wrong and t

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @03:17AM (#41359647)

        I've never understood how some OSS people seem to think spending money on licenses or support contracts is money wasted, but spending money on people to fight with software to make it do what you want is money well spent. No, it is all money either way. The question is what gets you more of what you want and costs less doing it.

        There isn't a right answer for every situation. It depends on what your company does, what kind of people you have, how large it is, what your needs are and so on.

        For example if you need a custom solution and you already have a bunch of developers, maybe getting OSS code and going that way is the correct answer (though maybe you don't give back, you don't have to if you don't distribute it). However if an off the shelf product meets your needs for a good price then it can well be the way to go.

        • by Lennie ( 16154 )

          That is easy to explain, because in most cases you need to fight with, euh against, the software to do what you need it to do anyway.

          If the existing product fits perfect for your needs, in that case it doesn't matter. But most organisations need software to fit their process.

          OSS code just allows you to do it your way, you could ask/pay the vendor to change their code but that is an extra cost.

      • Exactly - not being reliant on a vendor to fix problems and for feature requests is nowhere near as beneficial financially as when you can create your own priority for what you want and execute it merely by having to hire some programmers.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @11:31PM (#41358671)

      You'd be surprised what a CIO in the grip of the development department might do. Or, more to the point, since they are generally free, the CIO might be surprised to find out what is running on his hardware since one only asks the CIO for permission for things if they need it in the budget.

      I've seen a few places that will install free software and then hand the execs a bill for "optional" support once it is part of the application. Although I like the initiative and the way they get around the execs, I often want to strangle them because they tend to throw this stuff at production without understanding that just because it is the newest and greatest thing, doesn't mean that anyone really knows how to support it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, I'm pretty sure the author of the study isn't advocating that. Did you even read the article?
    • However - no CIO is going to spend real dollars, dollars which will get him fired, on unsupported software,

      If it's Open Source and they aren't paying for support then how are they going to be spending "real dollars" on it?

      dollars which will get him fired

      Crumbs, I am glad I work somewhere decisions are made based on what makes sense not on avoiding any sort of responsibility.

      • If they're not paying for support, but the thing breaks, and works stops @ the company - they cannot take customer orders, they cannot trigger orders to their supply chain or things of that sort, then it's costing them money. On one hand, the paychecks of employees still have to keep pouring out, but the revenue ain't gonna come in until operations can continue smoothly.

        So if a company couldn't work day to day, and the reason was that the computers were broke, the CIO's butt would be on fire until he had

  • Is this 2012? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nagasrinivas ( 1700232 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @12:37AM (#41358971)

    Most of this article reads like its 1999 now.

    “The skilled, motivated staff that grew up with the internet don’t want to work with closed, old fashioned systems,” ...
    "Norton cited studies from the London School of Economics which found that investments to deploy open source in-house drives longer-term savings of 20 percent over the alternatives"...
    "It advises CIOs, for example, not to separate current support teams from new development teams"

    It then goes on to explain the fish that they are trying to fry:

    “We commissioned this study to highlight to our customers and shareholders our use of open systems and contribution to open systems,”

    Ok great so you have opensource software. Before you propose any solution (any open source or proprietary) you'd think of a large number of factors. ROI is one of them. The capabilities of your staff and the availability of skills in the market would be another. The example of Tomcat and jQuery are lame to say the least. Some of the companies I worked for have use proprietary solutions AND save money in the process. For "enterprise" applications the major costs of running the show arent whether the software is open source or not. Maintenance over the life of the product costs much more (salaries, infrastructure, etc).

    • Some of the companies I worked for have use proprietary solutions AND save money in the process.

      Really? Over the long term? What I have noticed with commercial vs. open source is that initially the commercial software seems a far better deal. They cut you a great price on the licence, support is included and you get very polished software (usually). However when the licence comes up for renewal the price goes up by well over the cost of inflation - but you got a good deal initial so it's still not bad. However after the 3rd of 4th renewal you realize that you are spending far more than you really sho

    • Most of this article reads like its 1999 now.

      True... But you must not actually work in a typical large corporation with chunks of infrastructure that were already growing long in the tooth in 1999, I'm guessing? Otherwise, you'd see that this is in no wise remarkable.

  • Since open source software, at least when you carefully choose it, won't get obsolete as quickly, and even when it does and all fails, you can simply hire some programmers to maintain it for you.

    However we are talking about management here. It is not wise to select the most rational solution inside a company. Everybody can find the most rational solution to a problem. If you make rational decisions in a management position you are easily replaced.

    • Since open source software, at least when you carefully choose it, won't get obsolete as quickly, and even when it does and all fails, you can simply hire some programmers to maintain it for you.

      Yes, I'm sure hiring those programmers will be a lot less expensive than buying proprietary software. We can just pay them in pizza and beer, right?

      • Hmm... just try to buy a new version of Multics, or SCO Unix. Often simply hiring a programmer which makes the minimal changes to keep your old obsolete software running are much cheaper than switching to something new.

        Just look at companies still using Windows XP because they need IE6. Switching their old legacy software to something new simply is to expensive.

        • And if IE6 had been open sourced, they could have just ported it to Windows 7, independently of MS, but not stuck in the stone age w/ XP.
      • Yes, I'm sure hiring those programmers will be a lot less expensive than buying proprietary software. We can just pay them in pizza and beer, right?

        Often enough.

        I had a few jobs during university that got paid in hardware. Both sides saved money that way. And I'm sure for many small stuff, you can hire some local CS student for little more than pizza and beer. (if quick & dirty is enough. It's documentation, support and other paperwork that drives cost up)

        • by Anonymous Coward

          A fantastic way to get really poorly developed software.

      • Yes, I'm sure hiring those programmers will be a lot less expensive than buying proprietary software. We can just pay them in pizza and beer, right?

        You misunderstood the statement: You buy FLOS-software, it gets obsolete/abandoned/broken by something, you hire someone who fixes it (best case). You buy proprietary software, it gets obsolete/abandoned/broken by something...what are you going to do?

        • by tftp ( 111690 )

          You buy FLOS-software, it gets obsolete/abandoned/broken by something, you hire someone who fixes it (best case). You buy proprietary software, it gets obsolete/abandoned/broken by something...what are you going to do?

          The cost of hiring a F/OSS developer (just one!) will be about $150K per year. This is because the developer's salary ($75K in this example) is only half of the expenses that the employer incurs. The rest is invisible to the employee and includes various payroll taxes, benefits, administrat

      • In terms of cost of ownership, absolutely! Yeah, they are fully paid employees of your IT group (or however you decide to organize the company), but having them means that you can ignore someone like a Microsoft or an Oracle or an HP forcing you to upgrade to their latest software or hardware or combination of the two. Let's say you were running Windows Server 2008 and @ some point were forced to upgrade to Server 2012 after everything - extended support, etc - had died out. You still have some good iron

    • This is very true. For instance, think of people who bought Itaniums, and what might happen to them the day HP finally gives up on it. Had they only run Open Source software on it - like Debian or FreeBSD, ProgreSQL, Apache, et al, they at least have everything they need and not need external software support, since they could hire their own to maintain it as long as it's needed.

      Even if an Open Source project gets abandoned, the company can continue to maintain the version it has, including patches, and

      • One should note that in fact large companies already have the source to their software, simply because they developed it themselves. If you are an Airline in the 1960s you couldn't just go to a store and buy a seat reservation system. You bought a computer, and hired some programmers and operators and wrote it yourself. The idea of going to a store with your lawyers and buying some software is actually fairly new.

        • That is true, but what's being discussed here is companies which do have the choice of buying off the shelf software or getting/buying software that is open sourced, and then maintaining it. Yeah, the people who can write code & maintain that software can be asked to develop add-on solutions custom to their employers
  • I found that most companies are afraid to use cloud services because they fear for the safety and integrity of their internal documents. This is whack in so many ways since the majority of the clients I dealt with had worse back-up and security in place than the cloud providers they feared. Enjoy.
  • - greater innovation

    - faster responce to change

    - the ability to support a wide range of heterogeneous systems

    - better access to skilled, motivated and innovative development and support staff

    - faster exploitation of new technology developments

    - the ability to draw on a global community for specilist knowlege and problem solving

    - avoiding dependency on monopoly suppliers

    - reduced total cost of owndership

    - full visibility of, and thus confidence in the source code used Open for Busine []
    • by jsepeta ( 412566 )

      Open source is free only if your time has no value. How many cases of packages being abandoned have we seen in the open source community, or the software updates forking in a direction that you don't want it to go? At least with Microsoft crap you've got a plethora of trained and experienced staff or contractors on which to draw upon who can work with your software systems. Choosing open source is a crapshoot at best, the odds only in your favor if you hire a few capable programmers. Last software developme

  • There are three key types of license under which OSS may be released:

    - the GNU General Public License (GPL) requires that altered or extra code added to GPL software be also licensed under the GPL. This ensures the propagation of OSS but can cause licensing conflicts if GPL and proprietary software are combined.

    - the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license gives anyone the freedom to release updates or modifications of the software under any license they wish.

    - the Lesser GPL (LGPL) is a compr
    • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Monday September 17, 2012 @10:19AM (#41362207)
      Actually, there is a whole bonanza/plethora (depending on how one looks @ it) of Open Source licenses out there [], and so there is quite a variety. The above are just some of the more popular ones. As for GPL, there is a whole mess of issues about combining it w/ any licenses - not just proprietary licenses. The FSF really muddies the waters by having all the categories os copyleft/non-copyleft, Free/non-Free, GPL-compatible/GPL-incompatible and so on
    • That's true, but not terribly important for a lot of the stuff CIOs deal with. For example, if you have a need for a web application, you could write it in any number of languages (JSP, ASP.Net, PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl, etc), run it on numerous web and application servers (Tomcat, IIS, Apache, etc), hosted on several OS platforms (Windows, Linux, big iron Unixes), and not one of those decisions is in any way affected by Tomcat being under the Apache license.

      Here's my reasoning for why, if I were in their sh

    • by neminem ( 561346 )

      My favorite license is the WTFPL license. []

  • Think about this for a second. How many people here have jobs in developing software? Who wants programming as a career to conist of writing code without being paid? Now, I suspect that open source software is going to lead to fewer paying programming jobs.

    I know that there are efforts to monetize open source software. However I think the tendancy is for a larger number of open source software users to not pay for software than those who would of proprietary software. its not legally required of them to do

    • Richard Stallman has actually answered this question several times. Here are some of the counterarguments:
      1. The vast majority software developers aren't paid to develop software that is sold on the open market. For example, a major bank or insurance company typically has a large staff of developers who are writing software that not only is specific to their business, but also contains trade secrets. Because they're so specific to their businesses, and have to be kept secret, OSS doesn't have any effect on

      • You are conflating Open Source & Liberated Software. RMS would gag. As he says, the former is a development methodology, while the latter is a philosophy. What you described is the former.

        At any rate, dkleinsc is correct in his/her concerns, but as I pointed out below, that concern should be about liberated software, not open source. Companies should be free to restrict downstream distribution of their software to people who haven't paid for it - deep sixing the 'help your neighbor' clause of the

        • Companies should be free to restrict downstream distribution of their software to people who haven't paid for it - deep sixing the 'help your neighbor' clause of the GPL is needed.

          1. You've clearly missed (or utterly ignored) my point about the need to be able to fork something, which is all about doing something that an organization with the ability to restrict downstream distribution would most likely do everything they could to prevent. In my example earlier, the upstream package owner could have said they didn't want the modification, and without the ability to say "Fine, I'm just giving away my version on my own", the modification gets lost, and the next company that comes along

    • Open source is not a programmer job killer. Free software, or better described as Liberated software is. Open source is a software philosophy that encourages source code distribution w/ binaries w/ the goal of producing either better software, or owning all the tools needed to fix any problems that come up, or build in any new solutions to address new requirements as organizations grow. It is a better approach for a company over proprietary software, since typically, the company would hire its own develo

    • Open Source makes it possible for a team of programmers to add much more value with their work. When your work adds more value, you have more job possibilities and often, highter average wages.

      That maxima is almost always true. But it plays out in complex and unintuitive ways at the real world. Don't try to emmulate an economy within your brain, it is a losing proposition.

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