Naked CIO Says Open Source Is Not Dead, Just Limited

Lora Bentley

Open source isn't dead, says the silicon.com columnist known as The Naked CIO, it's just limited to those niche areas in which it has reached maturity, such as the Web and network security. The beginning of his piece indicates that open source evangelists and open source developers still have a lot of work to convince CIOs like this writer that open source is right for their organizations. The Naked CIO says:

As a CIO with a background in mixed environments -- and who still manages one -- I can say with certainty that maintaining and developing in a cohesive open source environment is complex, costly and ineffective, except in those areas mentioned where open source is mature.

The problems he has with open source aren't new. We've heard them before: Lack of complete integration, lack of best-of-breed capabilities and lack IT staff to support it at a reasonable price discourage this CIO from investing in open source. Recent research from The 451 Group tends to validate his thoughts, at least in terms of small businesses. The 451's Jay Lyman


The biggest obstacles center on limited IT budgets and limited IT staff. In terms of money, SMB customers are extremely frugal, and as stated, their biggest attraction to open source is almost always based on cost... Additionally, SMBs are more likely to take a tactical approach rather than a strategic approach to IT, thus limiting their budgets and spending and making them less likely to sign multi-year contracts.

If you're considering an open source deployment, The Naked CIO suggests asking yourself these questions:

  1. What is the business driver behind this initiative?
  2. Is the true cost -- including the labour to support it, annual subscription fees and the technical gaps in support, integration and innovation -- lower then other alternatives?
  3. Can I find capable resources cost-effectively to deliver an open source environment and then support it over time?
  4. Can standards be implemented that allow for effective management of an open source application?

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 7, 2008 3:02 PM Dan Dan  says:
The CIO here is either trying the wrong open source software or confusing projects with open source packages that are backed by commercial support -- that is as good or better than its proprietary counterparts. Every decision maker should use the same due diligence when selecting open source software as it does with proprietary options. Who is the vendor? Who are their successful customers? What support arrangements do they provide?A CIO that does this would find that open source is more than alive in both the SMB and Enterprise environments whether its Data & Application Integration, CRM, ERP, etc. Reply

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