I wrote a post several months ago called Tighter budgets mean more Open Source proclaiming that when budgets tighten up, more people look towards open source to get the tools they need to get their jobs done. Now we are in a recession and IT budgets across the globe are extremely constrained. Meanwhile, the amount of work we are being asked to produce is growing exponentially. We need to deliver faster, with more modern features, yet we have limited resources to meet these expectations. The smart folks who have already been leveraging open source software (OSS) have the edge.
When budgets were good, people who couldn't get over their perceptions of the pitfalls of OSS could easily turn the other way and continue to spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of shareholder dollars on commercial software without even evaluating OSS alternatives. Now, many of these same people are "opening their minds" because their budgets are limiting their ability to cozy up with their favorite vendors.
My company has already replaced a few commercial products with OSS. Recently our version control software was up for maintenance renewal and required an upgrade to a new version. We were already ready to move on to a different tool so we evaluated Microsoft Team Foundation Server and an popular open source alternative called Subversion (we are a Microsoft and Java shop). The Microsoft product was nice but was expensive and very proprietary. Subversion is free and we are able to use it consistently across both development platforms. We also use CruiseControl for the continuous build process that we implemented. These two tools have greatly enhanced our productivity for both the Java and Microsoft developers and did not add a single penny to my budget. No annual maintenance fees, no vendor lock in, no problem!
Last year we purchased a variety of tools in the SOA stack (BPM, ESB, Data Services). This year we needed to add several additional tools to assist the developers and testers. Here is a short list:
- SOA testing tools
- Run time governance
We have also implemented some web 2.0 technologies and leveraged two popular OSS solutions. Mediawiki is our enterprise wiki solution. This is the same software that powers Wikipedia. We also use Wordpress for our internal blogging initiative that is starting to draw a lot of traffic. I am also testing Twitter and Bebo to see if social networking/messaging has any value at our corporation. Most of the top Web 2.0 software are open source products. It will be hard to justify spending tons of money on Web 2.0 software when the most popular tools are free and scale to support millions of users.
I believe that as the recession continues, more IT leaders will look at open source then ever before. Many will like what they find when they do their due diligence. Once they have success with one or two tools, they will no longer need a recession to evaluate OSS. For those companies that have a formal vendor evaluation process, make sure you update your process to include open source products. Just because Gartner and Forrester do not have OSS in their Magic Quadrant or Wave, doesn't mean that you shouldn't be evaluating OSS. Many OSS projects have become so dominant that they are being purchased by major vendors. Sun's purchase of MySQL is a recent example of this. As a matter of fact, OSS is becoming so mainstream that Gartner predicts 80% of all commercial apps will leverage open source by 2012. If vendors are leveraging OSS, why are some companies refusing to do so? I'll leave you with a good post from Matt Asay on CNet - Open source and the future of vendor-free IT.