Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Friday, March 16, 2007

The (Small) Business Case for Open Source

If the code for open source can be shared, why not the business cases for it? No reason at all, says one UK company that will blog its experiences migrating an entire small business IT infrastructure to open source.

Mercian Labels, a 20-person maker of custom printed self-adhesive labels (and who doesn't love them?), posted a press release on its corporate blog announcing the start of its open source migration and its case study. As the migration proceeds, the company will blog about its strategic decisions, cost benefit analysis, technical options and problems faced during its open source journey.

To grow the open source user base, sharing best practices, case studies and business cases is just as important as sharing code -- especially for resource-challenged small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). And as Mercian found, SMEs may be positioned to realize returns on their open source investments faster than larger companies.

For Mercian, the switch to open source was an easy decision. Its business case balanced new costs of training, internal development and support against its existing costs from viral damage to mission critical servers, uncontrollable system changes, security threats and expensive upgrade paths.

Mercian decided to take control of its own IT destiny. Control, cost and future flexibility make open source an unbeatable component of its small business success. And even accounting for new costs, the company projects a positive (dollar) return on its investment in 1 year.

Categories: opensource, businesscase, SME

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why IT Projects Fail?

Your technology project has failed. Most likely it was not the technology that failed to deliver; it was you paying too little attention on your people, schedules and budgets. According to a recent company survey, the top 3 reasons for the failure of tech projects are: poor communications, unrealistic schedules and insufficient resource planning.

While most managers focus on the high-priced hardware, the complex architecture and technical issues, it is the "soft" issues that end up hurting a project the most -- people who do not communicate well, inattention to how long tasks take to complete, and not enough money and people to do the job well and on time.

Planning for project success means planning to communicate up, down and across the org chart. Communication is not an ad hoc activity; processes need to be defined so people know when and what they are expected to communicate.

People, schedules and budgets are the 3 pillars of successful IT projects.

Categories: ITprojects, communications

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Open Source Politics in the UK

Open source was thrust into the rough-and-tumble of British politics this week when the Tory Party's shadow chancellor criticized Tony Blair's Labor Party for its failure to expand use of open source software in government.

George Osborne seems to get it, and he spoke with clarity and passion. In his remarks (full speech is here), he complained of the uneven playing field for open source in government procurement.

But his challenge went beyond procurement rules. Osbourne called for a change in the culture of government in the digital age, and presented a technology strategy for the Conservative Party based upon three pillars: equality of information, social networking and open source. And not just open source as software but open source as a powerful model for mass collaboration.

Open source politics does not mean open source dictatorship. A Conservative Party spokesperson underscored this after the speech:
"Procurement should be based on what best meets their needs. Functionality, performance, security, value and the cost of ownership of software should be the priority, not categorical preferences for open source software, commercial software, free software or any other software development model."
If only more politicians spoke like this.

Categories: opensource, UK, government