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Enterprise FOSS Adoption Beyond Linux Servers? 227

An anonymous reader writes "I am working with a couple of large companies that are purchasing web and collaboration software stacks from Microsoft, IBM and others. These are for thousands of end users and are (supposedly) ready for multiple data center deployment and other big-corp requirements. I have suggested some open source alternatives such as Liferay and Drupal, and the technical people are interested but management types are not. They have given a few reasons, such as concerns over supportability and enterprise-readiness, but my feeling is that they are being won over by FUD from large vendors and the fact that most corps do not have significant deployments of FOSS technologies beyond Linux yet. All this seems to be in line with a survey on Web-app servers by OpenLogic. So my questions are: How have you persuaded larger enterprises to adopt server-side OSS, beyond server-room Linux and a couple of demo JBoss boxes under someone's desk? And which products are truly ready for enterprise-scale deployment?"
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Enterprise FOSS Adoption Beyond Linux Servers?

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  • -Enterprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:08PM (#27335203) Homepage

    Could someone re-write this story without the buzzword "enterprise" substituting for the actual requirements?

    Until then, I will have to mod this down.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Exactly - are the requirements "the user must be able to logon to their computer once with Smart Card and then have all the web applications be authenticated automatically with no "password prompts" - if so, they probably aren't going to do OSS today. Otherwise, they probably can do OSS. But, as you say - useless without knowing the real requirements.
      • Nonsense. You can do all this with LDAP and a bit of modifications.
        • by spun ( 1352 )

          Thank you. Of course you can, you just need to know how to use LDAP, rather than some proprietary solution built on top of LDAP (Active Directory, EDIR) which probably never really fit you 'enterprise' needs to begin with. (Buy more plugins! Plugins, modules, and extensions! Gotta get 'em all!)

      • Re:-Enterprise (Score:4, Informative)

        by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:24PM (#27335995) Homepage

        That's perfectly doable on Linux, and SunRay systems have been doing it for years...
        There are all kinds of ways to do this... LDAP, Kerberos, SSH keys and client certs (if you've authenticated to your user account and got access to your homedir then all your user specific keys/certs are there)..

        On the other hand, having a single password to access anything is not the most secure option, it's a case of convenience over security.

      • Actually, that's exactly how many "enterprise" requirements are stated by the managers. If your new Open Source tool doesn't play ball with somebody's fancy new scanner/sign-on tech (that the company spend $100k on 5 years ago) then it gets put on the shelf... and the company uses a technology that does play nice.... like Sharepoint!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mikeraz ( 12065 )

          aw c'mon I was happily enjoying some food until you posted that.

          sharepoint - to file sharing as Excel is to databases

    • I've got to agree. I think most would agree that a huge stack of non-Linux, FOSS apps are already deeply embedded in the enterprise. If the post can't come up with a requirements document, there's nothing to be said.
    • Well, let's see. It has to be priced at at least $2,000,000, so the big boss can say "Whatever the price is, we get half off!" and save the company a million dollars. And also, uh, what were we talking about?

    • Re:-Enterprise (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:59PM (#27338297) Journal

      Enterprise is not a buzzword. People in management like a single sign-on system and a well-knit integrated system that works, not a bunch of assorted code each in a silo that needs a separate login. At my place we have these open source apps:

      1. Linux servers - 7 of them, mostly file servers
      2. JBoss servers - 1, we are trying to replace a Websphere-based Insurance app with JBoss
      3. One Or Zero Helpdesk software, which has been customised for multiple support functions such as ICT, HR, Accounts, Payroll, Purchase, Inventory etc.
      4. DotProject - To manage 'scheduled' medium and long term tasks (not breakdowns or ticket-based tasks)
      5. Zimbra - Experimenting with Zimlets, we still use Exchange; Zimbra is servicing couple domains with about 220 users
      6. Open NMS / Nagios for Network Monitoring and alerts - works in sync with One Or Zero
      7. B2Evolution Blog software - seems to be the best fit for our needs, better than WordPress according to our programmers.
      8. PACS-One - open source PACS system for a hospital in the same group
      9. Exodus chat tool.
      10. We also use Joomla, vTiger CRM, Subversion and Tortoise SVN and other bits and pieces of FOSS code as starting points for some projects.

      All of the tools from 3 to 9 have been customised to use a single sign on system and centralised user management. Reply below this post with your email id if you like more details to be emailed to you.

  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) <tom@thomaslee[ ] ['cop' in gap]> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:13PM (#27335257) Homepage

    I've plugged this before... but Sphinx [] is a great full text search engine. I've helped with a couple of production deployments and folks have been happy with it. The Ruby on Rails integration is good and the API is easy to use... for a simple demo including excerpt highlighting, try some searches on my military reading list [] site.

  • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:17PM (#27335299)
    I work for IBM, but don't speak for them in an official capacity. Open source is customer driven and not vendor driven. There is little incentive for anyone outside your company to push open source software because it reduces their profit. Ask your vendors to come up with solutions that use open alternatives, otherwise they are just going to push what makes them money. Software margins are high and ISV's are bribed to push it. I think MS gives 6% kickback to vendors that sells a license, which is a revenue stream lost when open source is used. Ask your vendors to present an open alternative alongside their proprietary ones. Same support that management demands, but less risk.
    • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) < ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:28PM (#27336041) Homepage

      Vendors should really rethink this...
      Whatever they sell, they will have to support anyway...
      If they sell an MS product they might get 6%, but if they sell OSS then they get 100% of whatever they sell it for... OSS isn't about zero cost, it's about freedom to use and modify the code in any way you choose. You can sell the OSS products for 7% of the cost of the MS products and still make more money off them....
      It's win win for ISVs really, if the client wants to pay for something, let them pay for OSS and you keep the whole cost, and it can still be a cheaper option... If they don't want to pay then OSS is your only choice but you can afford to give it away for free because you didn't pay for it in the first place.

  • IBM is adopting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dk90406 ( 797452 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:19PM (#27335323)
    their own version of Open Office (Lotus Symphony) as the official internal standard this year (I work for them). MS Office will not normally be approved for internal use.
    Maybe not true FOSS, but close.
    • Re:IBM is adopting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:00PM (#27335737)

      I've used Lotus Symphony (and use OpenOffice at home). To me, it actually seems slower than MS Office and is a little bit of a pain to work with at times. Unfortunately for me, saying MS Office was "nicer" is not a hip thing to do on Slashdot, but it's unfortunately true. At least in my case.

      • Re:IBM is adopting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rmcd ( 53236 ) * on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:10PM (#27335853)

        I use OpenOffice under Ubuntu (and MS Office only when I absolutely must). I agree that OO is slower and less polished. But I have found that it gets the job done, and the MS Office interface has its own issues (I'm among the hard-core ribbon-haters).

        The great thing about IBM adopting symphony is that this should lead to improvements in the software. Nothing like eating your own dog food to make it taste better.

        • by dk90406 ( 797452 )
          I tend to agree. As P stated, this is not popular to say :-P
          MS office is faster launching (by several factors on my PC), the UI is more polished. But the 80/20 rule states (as you say) that OO would be enough for the vast majority.
          It will be interesting to see how IBM will handle this internal change, while the customers keep using MS Office, and sending MSO documents.
        • by darkpixel2k ( 623900 ) <> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @10:45PM (#27338017) Homepage

          (I'm among the hard-core ribbon-haters)

          The hard-core ribbon haters now have a support group. It's called "Everyone". We meet in the bar at 5:30 PM local time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by digitalunity ( 19107 )

        I just used Symphony today for the first time and I must say the polish on it is really impressive. It was extremely easy to use and I didn't have any compatibility issues with my old MS Office created documents.

        I did notice however that in Symphony Documents, my options for creating fields were all missing! A minor nuisance to be sure, but fields are nice...

        In any case, the lack of an OpenOffice database equivalent made me switch back to OpenOffice. I kind of get the feeling Lotus Symphony was designed for

        • It definitely looks more polished than, I agree. But still less pretty/polished than MS Office. I'm not an anti-ribbon person, I don't really care either way... but having used Office 2003, 2007,, and Symphony actually all fairly extensively, I would take MS Office over

          But it's hard to say no to Free. :) (but that doesn't prevent me from saying MS Office is a better polished product, and if someone wants to pay for that, then I have no problem with that..)

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Doesn't really matter tho, it uses open standard formats to store the data which is the most important part.
      I don't care what software other people use, so long as their choices don't reduce my choice (like proprietary formats often do).

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:20PM (#27335335) Homepage Journal

    Hard to argue for free software when the buyer's bonuses are based on saving % off MSRP (as it is in government contract procurements). Also if a big name like IBM or Microsoft crashes and burns nobody points the finger at you because there's an entrenched certification system for the monkeys maintaining the damn thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digitalunity ( 19107 )

      Kind of insane really since being an MCSE doesn't mean shit if Microsoft crashes and burns and isn't around to write patches for you anymore.

      At least if you went with IBM(depending on the product) there's a smidgin of hope that the community or your own developers can patch your business critical piece of software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Need to talk to whoever devised such a system then, because it's completely open to abuse...
      Some big vendors need to offer OSS based products with a ridiculously high MSRP, and then offer 99% discounts to anyone who asks...

      Bonuses for buyers should be based on how much of the assigned budget they save while still fulfilling the specified goals.

      • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @07:05PM (#27336375) Homepage Journal

        Sadly this is how it actually works in Texas. Maybe not at the local level, but state education contracts are deterimned by total discount as a percentage rather than total dollars saved. Educational contractors have evolved their pricing so that their actual asking cost is 50% (or so) of the MSRP in most cases. High dollar bidding is a bizzare art/dark magic and is completely void of any reason. Fortunately I don't work in state contracts so I'm not breaking any NDAs by saying this.

    • by bakes ( 87194 )

      Hard to argue for free software when the buyer's bonuses are based on saving % off MSRP (as it is in government contract procurements).

      So then wouldn't you just include in the quote something like "Comparable solution using Microsoft Software would cost $x"?

      IMO vendors should be doing that anyway.

  • Look in the mirror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:22PM (#27335367) Journal

    To evaluate the success of your recommendations, take a look in the mirror. What's your credibility to suggest anything at all when you have to come to (of all places) Slashdot for advice?

    Large corps have lots at stake, and they really, really, REALLY are terrified of any solutions that aren't basically guaranteed to work by large, trusted vendors. Stuff that they consider to be a competitive advantage will be enshrouded in mystery while everything else will be outsourced to the most commodity vendor.

    Now, compare 'Drupal' to 'Microsoft'. Maybe everybody HERE knows how painful it can be to get MS stuff to work, but nobody is going to be fired for saying MS because it's the biggest commodity vendor in the software space.

    Look in the mirror: are you trusted there? When you are fired, who is MEGACORP going to go to when there's a problem?

    These questions are being answered by PEOPLE who are afraid that if they make a risky decision, they will suffer the consequences. (get fired/sued/whatever) To sell your OSS solution you have to that there's no/little risk in going with it.

    Good luck.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mxolisi06 ( 1009567 )
      Although I fully agree with your comment, i think you missed the point of the submission's title: in big corps, management did get convinced that linux servers aren't too risky, and they are now happily going for it (where I work management is loudly bragging about the millions they are saving with linux). Hence the question is valid: what is the reason why it isn't the case yet with say application servers ? Will it just come in due time ? Or is there a more fundamental reason, like lack of consensus about
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eln ( 21727 )

        Linux got accepted because some big vendors like IBM started supporting it. Until you can get some big trusted vendors to start supporting these apps, they won't see large-scale deployment in the enterprise.

    • by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:44PM (#27335577) Homepage Journal

      What's your credibility to suggest anything at all when you have to come to (of all places) Slashdot for advice?

      Presumably better than if he was the type to pretend he knows everything.

      Large corps have lots at stake, and they really, really, REALLY are terrified of any solutions that aren't basically guaranteed to work by large, trusted vendors.

      Is this a rational fear? It probably is for hardware, where the big vendor can overnight replace the entire system for you after a rat eats it, but what about software where the failure causes are different? How does responsiveness and the effectiveness of that response compare between the various guarantees? How often is this actually needed?

      Now, compare 'Drupal' to 'Microsoft'. Maybe everybody HERE knows how painful it can be to get MS stuff to work, but nobody is going to be fired for saying MS because it's the biggest commodity vendor in the software space.

      isn't this essentially the classic definition of FUD ("nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment" [])?

      To sell your OSS solution you have to that there's no/little risk in going with it.

      Or that the benefits outweigh the risk, else why would pretty much everyone run Windows instead of something that people don't bother to write viruses for?

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        Yes it does matter for software. Moving from system to system IS A MAJOR PAIN and very expensive.
        And Yes going to Slashdot is just dumb.
        Why is it dumb?
        Because if you don't treat FOSS as a professional system to start with why should anybody believe you.
        So what this guy should have done is go the the Drupal website and then found this page. []
        Golly gee case studies about how Drupal can be used. Just like you would find at any closed source vendors site.
        Interested in Liferay?
        Guess what th

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @08:34PM (#27337131) Journal

        >What's your credibility to suggest anything at all when you have to come
        >to (of all places) Slashdot for advice?

        Presumably better than if he was the type to pretend he knows everything.

        I'm sorry, I didn't mean this as an attack - just a statement of reality. Is the OP trusted by the organization he's representing? I suspect not. Look at it from the perspective of a mid-level suit to see what I was trying to communicate. I respect OP for learning, and eventually he/she/it will understand this lots better. But don't confuse those who pretend to know with those who actually do!

        Is this a rational fear?

        Does it matter? It's there, and it's both real, and reinforced by widespread anecdote. Who hasn't heard of a migration disaster or three? Having a demonstrably strong organization willing to commit to supporting your OSS solution goes a long, long way: how else do you think IBM manages to sell OSS-based solutions?

        isn't this essentially the classic definition of FUD?

        Yes. And FUD often works because it's a real effect that manifests on real people.

    • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:38PM (#27336129) Homepage Journal

      Large corps have lots at stake, and they really, really, REALLY are terrified of any solutions that aren't basically guaranteed to work by large, trusted vendors.

      Aside from hardware (game controllers, mice/mouses[?], keyboards, etc.) what does Microsoft guarantee to work? I have read their EULAs. Heck, I even worked second-tier Windows support back in the day. They expressly disclaim all warranties, stated or implied. There _is_no_guarantee_ that Windows or Microsoft Office will work for any purpose. They do not guarantee that it will work, and they certainly won't guarantee that Microsoft Excel can properly add 2+2.

      With all warranties expressly disclaimed, HOW does "REALLY are terrified of any solutions that aren't basically guaranteed to work by large, trusted vendors" make expensive proprietary software a better choice than free/open source solutions? The industry entrenched around the theory that you need it, and you will NOT take your mouth off the teats of Microsoft and you will need expensive training and "maintenance."

      Finger-pointing? What happens when a proprietary product reaches EOL and support is required? Many companies require you to purchase the new product even before you can purchase the support incident - if they will even support the old version at all. Who fixes the product then? If you need data recovered, it takes someone deciphering the data format with a hex editor, or trying to make heads and tails of a closed-source vendor's idea of a database schema.

      When an open-source product loses its backing (project is abandoned, the company which created it is sold or closes, or whatever) who can fix it? Whatever developer you can find who knows the language the product was coded in. Worst case you'll still have access to your data and can migrate it to something else, but in most cases you can get the defect fixed and move on in life and get back to doing your real work.

      When looking at it objectively:

      Which is the bigger risk?
      Which is the safer bet?

      You might argue that Microsoft is stable and isn't going anywhere soon, but on the other hand, all you bought was 20 seats of office (or "pirated" (arrrgh!) one across 20 workstations) and to a company with $100 billion in the bank, your threat to go elsewhere if they don't fix your bug in $f00, it's less than the buzzing of a mosquito. It's not even head lice to them. They couldn't care less because a) they already have your money b) you're too small to give a squat about and c) you're ("you" in this hypothetical situation, not "you" specifically) stupid enough to keep buying their product even when they do not fix their bugs.

      So, the bug will not be fixed, and you still will pay for the product. That is just how life is. However, F/OSS would have given you the software for free (BONUS!) and you would have been able to get the bug fixed. Now, it is true perhaps that fixing the bug might cost more (if you had to hire a developer to fix it for you) than Microsoft Office would have cost you, but on the other hand, the fact remains that you could fix it and gain access to your data and get on with making a living.

      Now, in an "enterprise" situation I would think that in a situation where there is no warranty, and there is an option costing millions with limited hardware support and a limited lifetime and risk of lawsuits in the event of "license" "violations" and there is a free option where the support is JUST AS GOOD, if not better, supports more server-grade hardware, there is NO risk of per-seat "license" "violations" AND the source is available so you know that at worst you can have your IT department fix it, it should be a no-brainer.

      Unfortunately, swag and kickbacks convince suits otherwise.

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        And you're telling me this because... why again?

        I've bet the farm on Linux with great success. Our CentOS server cluster does well north of 99.95% uptime and excellent performance. Our normal client(s) replace anywhere from 1-5 servers with our out-sourced solution, where we serve over a hundred clients from a single cluster of 6 servers. Just ONE of our clients replaced some dozen heavily-loaded servers with our software solution, solving the same set of problems, and we didn't even notice the load increa

    • by rmcd ( 53236 ) *

      This is just one anecdote, but my institution just screwed up big time trying to implement a set of web services including a CMS. I'm a peripherally involved user. The implementation was such a disaster that the boss has put everything on hold. Best guess is that we will rip everything out and start over. It's that bad.

      What's interesting is that the IT folks required, from the outset, the use of commercial products running on Microsoft server; open source was ruled out, and an expensive consulting firm was

    • If you're already a MS shop, sure you won't get fired for buying it. But, what happens when something breaks, you can't fix it, and when you call MS support (and pay for it), the solution takes hours.

      Like, the old Exchange had a problem when it's mail database got too large. It simply wouldn't handle mail any more. The fix was to rebuild and recompress the database. On the little network that I had to work with it on, it took at least 8 hours. We made it mandatory for Frid

    • What's your credibility to suggest anything at all when you have to come to (of all places) Slashdot for advice?

      Well, actually over the years I've got plenty of helpful advice from /.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Maybe everybody HERE knows how painful it can be to get MS stuff to work, but nobody is going to be fired for saying MS

      They very well could be if they recommend hobbyware that will not even scale to 4GB (most MS fanboys have never even SEEN the server or 64 bit versions) and you have a large application and a pile of top end hardware that could only ever run MS stuff in virtual machines. You also got the old advertising drivel wrong, it was "nobody gets fired for buying IBM".

      The other argument is comparing

    • As have done several of my buddies and former buddies, all of them Slashdot users.

      There is nothing wrong with asking Slashdot, this stupid snobbery has got to stop frankly...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PPH ( 736903 )

      Nobody got fired when our IT department spends a week of 24 hour days chasing virii out of the Windows Server racks. Meanwhile, all of us *NIX people just sit back, watching the thing probing ports or firing off malformed URLs in our systems' logs. To no effect. Its not the TCO to the organization, or the lack of administrative expertise. We've got multiple systems, experience with both and there's never been a clear advantage for Microsoft products.

      I think its because most people are lazy. Microsoft can sp

  • by aoteoroa ( 596031 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:24PM (#27335391)
    Even if you could convince management that you can create wonderful things with open source they are still going to worry what would happen when you are gone.

    I encountered this when I offered to set up open source web filters [] in each of our locations and save significant money compared to other solutions. Management agreed ipcop did everything we need, and would save a lot of money but was still hesitant. When I located local contractors in my city who could make changes if I was ever "hit by a bus" they gave me the go ahead.

    If you are looking at open source consider opencms which has commercial support that your company can use when you leave or get promoted to another position.

    • Not quite (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Burz ( 138833 )

      The 'users' of a web filter are sysadmins. These expert 'users' are the ones who interface with the server and router software that runs a network.

      In this discussion, we are talking about true end-users and the desire of sysadmin types to make them use a nebulous classification of software ('Linux') that only the expert can competently sort through to make a desktop work.

      The management types instinctively know that what the author is trying to sell them isn't something most end-users can grasp. And that jus

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Even if you could convince management that you can create wonderful things with open source they are still going to worry what would happen when you are gone.

      Then they get somebody else that knows about sendmail, apache or whatever. I don't know about the USA but in a lot of places they start the students off with linux beacuse it is a really cheap teaching tool - where I am every single IT graduate knows the basics of the platform and where to get more information. So long as you don't make your home gro

  • Don't ask permission (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:26PM (#27335411) Homepage Journal

    Free Software invariably gets into the Enterprise as a skunkworks project. The managers you are talking to have a budget for a business portal. They want the project to succeed, so that they look good, and they aren't really interested in having money left over in the budget when they are done. They are shopping around for a solution, not a project.

    If you really want to get Free Software into your business the proper way to do so is talk the manager in charge of the project into spending most of his money on a proprietary product that won't actually work. There are plenty of commercial offerings out there that are likely to be a bad fit for your business. Talk the manager in question into purchasing one of those, but make sure that he takes all of the credit. It shouldn't be hard if you spent the first part of the purchasing process pushing for Free Software.

    Watch the portal project crash and burn.

    Now fire up a basic portal on the Free Software platform of your choice. If possible pre-populate it with data and tie it into your existing authorization and authentication mechanisms. The idea is to have a working demo of most of the functionality that the executives wanted.

    The downside of this method is that, if you do it enough, you eventually end up being forced into management yourself.

    • by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:30PM (#27335453) Homepage Journal

      This is a horrible idea.

      I suspect it would work, though.

    • Microsoft has been doing exactly the opposite for years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hm. So you talk up a non-free (expensive) solution. You then watch the manager take all credit. You expect all blame to go on manager. Right. What's your credibility now? If I was your manager and you talked up this expensive proprietary product and it crashed and burned AND made me look bad, you're not going to be sticking around too long.

      • No, you make it clear that you like the Free Software solution. In fact, for the plan to actually work you have to actually prefer the Free Software solution. More than that, you need to be able to get the Free Software solution to do what is needed. In short, don't try this unless you are confident that you can make the Free Software product work for you. Of course, experimenting with Free Software isn't particularly expensive. It can even be fun.

        When the manager then shoots down the Free Software p

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Either way, you are basically steering the project manager into a bad decision.

          If I were a manager and one of my IT guys DIDN'T warn me that this or that wouldn't work, and I paid a lot of company money for it, I'm faced with two options, in my mind...

          1. My IT guy was ignorant. (not good for IT guy)
          2. My IT guy (especially if I just shot down his suggestion) wasn't particularly interested in seeing a non-his-suggestion idea work.

          Maybe I'd make a weird manager, I don't know, but I'd rather have my IT guy be comp

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jason Earl ( 1894 )

            First of all, I would like to thank you for a series of excellent posts. Seriously, very well done.

            To a certain extent my responses have been tongue in cheek. I have always liked my direct report managers. In fact, I have never worked for someone that I didn't feel had my best interests in mind. Now that I have some managerial experience myself it was clear that my previous bosses had a great deal of skill and knowledge. In fact, I would consider most of my bosses to be more intelligent than I am. I

            • I try. :P :) Hopefully I didn't get too biting... in part, I was probably responding to the idea that some people do seem to have a "managers are all out to get you, so it doesn't matter what you do to them" mentality, no matter who the manager is. I'm actually fairly new to the whole business world thing, but even with good employees, the sort of corporate gossip and frustration (lack of patience and understanding, etc) is kinda ... weird, to me.

              The for-our-division method seems like it would be a better

    • The managers you are talking to have a budget for a business portal. They want the project to succeed, so that they look good, and they aren't really interested in having money left over in the budget when they are done

      That was last year's business plan. This year, you have to achieve the same level of business support with a drastically reduced budget. You want your manager to look good - send him to the board with a successful project implemented for free.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      So that's why Andersons/Accenture still have a place it IT after a string of expensive disasters!
  • More often than not, what the managers care about is the support. They want to know that they can call someone when the implementation goes sideways and get solutions. They like the fact that Microsoft or IBM can point a finger at a previous deployment and say, "We did the exact same thing that you want to do for this other client over here, and it works. Go ahead, call them." The Microsoft and IBM people have the consulting resources and implementation teams to throw at the project. They have the road

  • CGI Scared them... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They are still recovering from having to replatform web servers to J2EE after some enterprising (courageous) hacker developed their first web site using PERL (before mod_perl days too...).

    The "real programmers" looked at it and in their assessment they said that variables should not have $ or % or @ preceding them, that the code was hard to read because they couldn't understand that name => value syntax, and besides, there were all these cool J2EE framework things to play with that had containers and req

  • How have you persuaded larger enterprises to adopt server-side OSS, beyond server-room Linux and a couple of demo JBoss boxes under someone's desk?

    ... try Blackjack and Hookers. On second thought, forget the Blackjack.
    [Is it possible to get modded +5 Redundant?]

  • Okay how about. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:45PM (#27335585) Homepage Journal

    I think you will find all of these in large corporations. AKA "Enterprise" situations.

  • Premature (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thethibs ( 882667 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:48PM (#27335609) Homepage

    Thousands of users and multiple data centers is not the time to ask major stakeholders to leave their comfort zone. "Major vendor FUD" is not the issue, assuming it exists at all. When I have a major investment at stake, I don't need a saleman to tell me where the risks are. The single biggest problem with FOSS is that there is no one to share the risks with.

    The time to introduce FOSS is with small non-critical projects. It's about boiling frogs. It's also about demonstrating that community support works without the threat of cancelled contracts and lawsuits. That takes a while.

    It also takes some guile. It's a bit like the early days of the PC. At that time the typical IS Manager's attitude to the PC was "over my dead body." So we sold to the end user departments using their office equipment budgets (word processors, fax, telephone, copier) and flew under the IS radar. In one large Canadian federal government department, we had over 1500 PC's and 5 networks interlinked with an X.25 WAN before the ADM/IS noticed (it was the X.25 that got us. WAN came out of his budget). By that time there was nothing he could do. The trick is to introduce it a little bit at a time until it reaches critical mass.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mjwx ( 966435 )

      The single biggest problem with FOSS is that there is no one to share the risks with.

      No, the single biggest problem with FOSS is the illusion that MS or other proprietary vendors will share some of your risk. When this illusion is shattered, the rest of the problems are trivial.

  • How about this (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:51PM (#27335633) Homepage Journal

    Drupal case studies. []

    And for Liferay []

    Next question?

  • Enterprise? (Score:3, Funny)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @05:53PM (#27335661)

    I'm probably the only one here that read that and thought that migrating from LCARS to Linux might not be in the Federation's best interest. Although I'm sure that 300 years from now, all software is FOSS. ^_^

  • Useless Survey (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thethibs ( 882667 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:02PM (#27335763) Homepage

    As a minor aside, the linked OpenLogic survey is useless. They only polled the people who joined their webinar--people already involved enough to be interested in a comparison of FOSS servers. That's one heck of a selection bias.

  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:08PM (#27335827)

    The biggest issue you need to overcome with FOSS projects in a business setting is supportability. For example, I'm on a project at the moment where I'm transitioning the customer from a proprietary unix solution onto multiple Oracle RAC clusters on Redhat; Oracle Application servers on Redhat; and Linux Virtual Server load balancing clusters, also on Redhat. This is fine, because the software stack from top to bottom is mainstream, supported by commercial vendors, and after I'm gone there is a well defined set of skills they can recruit against and train existing staff to replace me. Since getting here though I've discovered a few bespoke applications (developed in-house by people who have since left) written using Ruby on Rails. While the apps work well today, documentation is poor to non-existent, and no one is left now with skills to understand them, develop them if requirements change or support them. They aren't backed by a vendor, so if something goes wrong they're screwed. It's kind of their own fault: they gave free rain to someone who either wanted to do this stuff using his own favourite tools, or wanted a tick on his resume, instead of sticking with technologies in line with their core competencies. If you want to do something with Drupal for example, then make sure you're able to wrap it up in a support structure (from a vendor) that can give them the security they need. Another example: I convinced my current customer that switching to Zabbix [] for their server, application and network monitoring and alert needs would be a good thing, and they went for it. Why? Because while Zabbix is Open Source, it's also backed by a vendor (Zabbix) and they can buy a commercial support contract. In addition, being a FOSS project they could install and test it at no cost for as long as they like before making a decision and parting with their cash. So if you can tick all the boxes, you stand a much better chance of getting your ideas accepted.

    And don't listen to anyone who tells you to sneak this stuff in through the back door. If it's under the radar then your employer is in for a nasty surprise if it goes wrong. And if it's business critical you'll find yourself pink slipped faster than you can blink.

  • Companies these days are deploying OSS all over the place, they just tend to use commercially supported distributions of it.... The trick to getting something installed, is to have a recognized vendor sell it.

    A lot of OSS is deployed without companies even realizing what it is, a lot of commercial products use OSS heavily but don't say so in the marketing literature... You might get one or two paragraphs buried deep in the technical documentation or an offer to provide sourcecode to some components as requi

  • The software is cheap.

    But the fact remains, when the software doesn't work- we can *make* IBM or Microsoft spend thousands of dollars analyzing and FIXING the problem (even if it requires a software patch). We can't *make* a group of random people do that.

    I am totally pro FOSS in my personal life. But when my job depends on it, I'd use Microsoft/IBM/etc. on the back end unless the FOSS solutions were absolutely rock solid. My company is so huge that both Microsoft and IBM have had to rewrite portions of

  • and the technical people are interested but management types are not.

    Why do the management people think they should override a technical recommendation? Do they not trust their staff? Is the staff misrepresenting something?

    Technical: Vendor X provides the best quality, most reliable screwdrivers. They come in all the sizes we need. Vendor Y does not provide the sizes we need. Therefore, we recommend Vendor X.

    Management: No, use Vendor X.

    I'll admit that this does happen sometimes. But usually the problem is either that the technical staff isn't providing a solution that

  • by rackserverdeals ( 1503561 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:29PM (#27336047) Homepage Journal

    JBoss has been pretty good at penetrating the corporate data center. I think Glassfish will do well also since it's backed by a company that already has a presence in many corporate data centers.

    Since Liferay is a J2EE app, it should be a little easier since most corporate customers are already using the J2EE stack. Liferay also offers "enterprise support" if that means anything.

    This might be a good time to call a Sun rep and give them your requirements and tell them you want an open source solution.

    There was talk of Java Enterprise System being open sourced but I don't think that ever happened. If that's a more palatable solution for management, it might be cheaper.

    Sun isn't very popular on here but they're good at getting open source into the enterprise... with support.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:38PM (#27336133)

    In Germany and the other German speaking parts of Europe you'd have a hard time with Drupal too - but for entirely different reasons. Here Typo3 [] pratically owns the portal, intranet and CMS market. That's right. The FOSS Project Typo3 is the market leader for portal software in Germany and neighbours. The secondary market for soltions based on and built around Typo3 is way beyond critical mass and has been growing since around 2001. You have 3rd party vendors, "Typo3 Agencies" (an actual generic term - no joke!), a f*cking regular quarterly Typo3 magazine [] and hosters specialised on Typo3 with all the bells and wistles. scores around fourty (40!) hits for German books and training DVDs on Typo3 and Typo3 specific subjects. And if you're looking for a job as a web professional, it's more or less a safe bet to get into a little Typo3 & TypoScript - you'll get a gig in no time. Or at least a project or two to make ends meet. Even during this downtime there are serious job-offerings for this sort of thing.

    Now if only T3 wouldn't be such a bizar behemoth operating system of a PHP CMS, I'd be really happy. But since it's open source, I guess there's not that much to moan about.

    I'm a Joomla guy btw. I've seen the fucked up appmodel reverse enginered of a T3-DB of Typo3 4.0 and thus will not look at T3 again until the entire redo is finished in Version 5.0. :-)

    Bottom line: MS and other proprietary vendors are a minority in this field in Germany and still businesses are thriving around the prime software solution which is FOSS. I don't see why this shouldn't happen other places aswell. It's not like German businesses are particularly known for their recklessnes or their lack of sense of quality.

  • by davecb ( 6526 ) * <> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @06:47PM (#27336201) Homepage Journal
    Back when I worked for Siemens, a very conservative company, they adopted and shipped Linux 0.98 to customers.

    How? Easy: it met their three requirements for a third-party product

    1. There was a book about it. O'Reilly was preferred.
    2. It came on a professionally printed CD .
    3. There was a company offering a service contract for it.

    That's all it took, plus the hidden criteria, of course: it worked better than SCO.


  • I work for a small to medium sized company (4,000+). Our intranet group went with Drupal. It's been remarkably configurable. Some folks were pushing for SharePoint. To get there, we had a group (in-house) review current system types (static, CMS, Portal) and features of each group. Then made a decision as to what level we wanted to shoot for. SharePoint didn't sufficiently make the feature list, and Drupal (and others) did.
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      That's one thing to like about Drupal: it provides an (optionally) very minimal tool set/framework upon which you can build pretty much anything without mucking into the actual Drupal internals. It's "object oriented web design", which is very nice.

  • Plenty of examples! (Score:4, Informative)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @08:07PM (#27336931) Homepage

    There are plenty of examples of web services running on Open Source for 'enterprise' use - groupware, CRM, accounting, the works. Some of these packages are very good.

    Its hard to be specific/determine what you're trying to do without knowing more specifics as to what you're looking for. Of the groupware projects I'm aware of, I know the following have a fair amount of support/use:

    * Plone CMS []
    * OBM []
    * eGroupWare []
    * Drupal []
    * Typo3 []

    Of these, I know that Plone, Drupal, and Typo3 are all "platforms" for developing, managing, and extending content. I seem to recall either eGroupWare or OpenGroupWare extend/integrate with MS Office products. No, it's not going to be the level of integration that Sharepoint stuff offers, but it's something to mention, at any rate (and isn't going to have the massive licensing costs + perpetual lock-in that a MS solution has*).

    Plone, in particular, has a lot of support and corporate/"enterprise" use. From their site:

    Plone is among the top 2% of all open source projects worldwide, with 200 core developers and more than 300 solution providers in 57 countries. The project has been actively developed since 2001, is available in more than 40 languages, and has the best security track record of any major CMS.
    It is owned by the Plone Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and is available for all major operating systems.
    Sources: CVE and Ohloh.

    That alone is impressive enough; but also consider some of the notable companies which utilize Plone [] in/for a variety of purposes:

    Akamai (yeah, that Akamai - the guys who load balance Microsoft web servers)

    Nokia (QT Software stuff)

    MyCity ("real time monitoring system for Cities, Towns, Districts or utilities. It makes use of the GPRS service offered by the various GSM network operators")

    Discover Magazine

    Novell, Inc. (for enterprise services)

    NASAScience (public site for NASA's Science Mission Directorate)

    FSF (yeah, those hippies)

    universities, university science/it departments, hospitals, public/government sites... the list goes on.

    Those are notable company names, and at least in the case of Akamai, Novell and Nokia, everyone in IT should know about them. They're also some fairly diverse (and expansive) implementations using the same central CMS - and they're not shackled to a single software backend, able to run on any OS and server combination they could imagine.

    * The cost factor associated with MS solution lock-in is a big consideration, bigger than just a simple argument of something like "OpenOffice vs. MS Office". With a web-based, top-level technology like this, it's much, much more important to keep the technologies used "open" - because it is the top-level interface to all your data. You can not move away from a closed package on the backend without moving the entire system, at once, to something open (more often than not, with MS). You're basically stuck with that stack unless you want to start over; there's no ability to independently consider parts of the stack and replace them, as there often is with open systems.

  • Don't even try. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @09:07PM (#27337415) Homepage Journal
    That's about the sum of it. Big "enterprise" is steeped in the "no one ever got fired for buying [large lumbering vendor]" culture. One of the advantages of small businesses is that they're nimble and willing to experiment, especially if they can realize cost savings along the way. Bigcos only started using Linux servers after they percolated their way up from the bottom, and that's going to be the case for every new grassroots technology, whether it's open source content management, open source collaboration, etc.

    Gunning straight for the enterprise is a losing proposition.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson