Like it or not, open source technology is creeping into the enterprise. But, quite often its arrival is most assuredly not liked.
At the European Technology Forum’s Technology Summit in London in October, four leading CIOs were each asked about their use of open source software. One of them, David Lester of the Stock Exchange, who is interviewed later in this issue, said his company does not use Linux at all and has no plans to do so; another, Simon Post of BSkyB, said his company would not take the risk of using Linux in the data centre; two other CIOs, Ian McKeown of Nortel Networks and Paul Coby of British Airways, were both less than keen. In fact, Coby said that BA had been forced to use Linux because of a decision by an application provider – and as a result, his cost of ownership for that application had risen, hopefully temporarily.
But there was a codicil to these comments. No-one ruled out future investments in Linux, and BA said it had already built skills in Linux. BSkyB’s Post also warned Microsoft that the open source PC applications suite, Open Office, might be a cheap alternative to Microsoft Office.
The point that open source is creeping in was further underlined recently when the UK’s Office of Government Commerce – the treasury department responsible for establishing best practices in public sector procurement – began nine separate pilot trials to establish if open source software might give better value than rival commercial operating systems or packages. Experience elsewhere in the world has shown that, usually, when public sector trials begin, further adoption follows.