5 Fears of Open Source in Corporate Culture

Linux I want to Believe

In recent surveys, it was determined that some companies have begun adopting open source products and new generations of engineers and developers have been trying to change the corporate culture. However, changing decades of corporate culture is much more difficult and still has a long way to go.

Even in the work place, co-workers are frustrated that clients and bosses are unwilling to adapt to changing technologies because of the many fears of Open Source.

Fear of Rising Costs

Companies fear that adopting open source technology will cost more in the end because of training and redevelopment costs that will replace the working expensive solutions. Some believe new security policies will be required and will increase costs.

Rising Costs

In reality, most open source products do not require extensive training (can't say the same about Microsoft Sharepoint on the other hand). In open source, documentation is always provided because the goal is to spread the use of open source and so learning to use the tool must be easy.

The same security policies and procedures apply to both open source and enterprise solutions, nothing needs to be changed. Open source simply needs to be adopted and encouraged.

Fear of Time Loss

Companies worry that time will be wasted trying to redevelop everything and getting rid of the enterprise software, so they go with the philosophy of "It's not broken why fix it? We'll just buy a newer version."

Companies also worry about training and time wasted adapting to the new technology as staff may have to learn new skills. Time may be wasted trying to find features that are already available in the Enterprise version.

The truth is, sometimes the open source software has better documentation and simpler designs that can increase rapid development of solutions. Most of the time, training won't be an issue since open source developers use minimalist approaches to better spread their product to the public.

Fear of Cheap Products

The "if it is expensive, it must be good" philosophy is something most of you probably have seen in the corporate culture. For example, companies believe that if Microsoft is charging such high fees for use of Microsoft Sharepoint, then Drupal can't possibly do the job just as well.

Of course, the fact that employees who sell these expensive products, are able to woo customers with magic shows in their seminars to convince corporate bosses and even government officials, have been a major problem for Open Source as well. Since enterprise software solutions are backed by large companies, they have the funds to aggressively market their solutions.

Corporate executives drive BMW, Audi, or Mercedes to work; do you really think they will settle for free software? They should, free software can be powerful.

The fact is, open source software can operate sometimes more efficiently than enterprise solutions. They should be considered on equal terms as their enterprise counterparts and compared by their features, not their cost.

Fear of Technical Problems

Companies worry that they will be faced with new problems because of adopting new open source technologies, and they won't have the expertise to solve it themselves. They believe enterprise software will be able to provide better technical support and customer service.

Panic Button Technical Problem

Most open source software companies profit from the technical support and training that they provide rather than selling their software. As a result, they can sometimes provide a better customer service since that is what keeps them afloat.

Fear of Changing Culture

Corporations fear they will alienate their best employees who may have worked with the existing enterprise solutions for years. They fear that staff will be angry with all the new abrupt changes. They fear their clients will demand what is most convenient and what they are use to.

Changing Culture

For companies, the enterprise solutions are convenient because they've been purchased and they're already here. Why bother with the effort of switching?

However, most developers know that learning is a significant component of being a developer, and learning new software and adapting to changes has to be their strongest trait.

The effort of switching can pay off big as developers can create applications faster and are not restricted to enterprise solutions. The open source software might better suite the clients' needs. It might even increase productivity. The only way to know is to try it and to survey the opinion of what your developers think.

License Concerns

There are some other license concerns like GPL. Companies do not want to be forced to reveal their source code to others. The terms of the license regarding derivative works and static/dynamic linking of GPL libraries are vague and scares law departments.

Do you agree that corporations have these fears? What would be the best way to stop these fears?

Have you tried presenting to your bosses about the benefits of open source? How did it go?

Anonymous's picture

Good article. As a

Good article. As a freelancer I can relate to the fear of cheap products. Sometimes when I am bidding for jobs if I bid too low the potential clients will mistake my low bid for low quality when that really isn't the case

Abyss Walker's picture

I know, and ironically

I know, and ironically sometimes these expensive solutions seem to become more popular inside companies. I don't think the open source domination will happen too soon.

Faczo's picture

This is like a tiny fraction

This is like a tiny fraction of all the fears possible. Sometimes you hear the most ridiculous excuses!

Cemro's picture

I always get angry when I'm

I always get angry when I'm forced to use some enterprise product when I can take 10 minutes to do it with open source software.

CyanideX's picture

Where did you find that

Where did you find that hallucinating chief with fake beard at? Hilarious. That's what it seems like sometimes in the work place with people who insist on enterprise solutions.

RohaN's picture

And you would think open

And you would think open source doesn't have to convince anyone considering it's free.

Baran Ornarli's picture

That was very entertaining, I

That was very entertaining, I definitely agree that it's hard to change cultures sometimes.

Dan Killam's picture

I find it amazing how few

I find it amazing how few people are truly computer literate and can understand that two programs are similar. As a result the companies have to shell out thousands to get these people trained on how to go from typing a document in Word, to Open Office's Writer.

Solifugus's picture

Those are very generalized

Those are very generalized concerns, of course. The truth is, it's the specific needs that make the biggest difference.

Sharepoint, for example, is a piece of garbage to such a degree and in so many ways (and hideously expensive of both money and administrator time) but nothing in the Open Source world provides what it claims to.

Drupal, with the right customizations comes close. The interface for site development is not for regular users but for trained admins. The file repository (WebDAV) has throughput and scale issues. Workflow creation isn't so easy, either. Drupal does it all for professional content providers, but not as a collaboration tool for the diversity of knowledge workers.

You need to enable secretaries to develop sites and administer content on them. Also, provide knowledge workers the ability to create and execute workflows with others. It's needs file views (not directory hierarchies) with versioning and scalability for many terabytes of storage. Also, the ability to get email notification of changes by others and the ability to email in changes to workflows and file attachments.

Sharepoint does all that... but breaks in many areas, too.

Anonymous's picture

The funny thing i worked at

The funny thing i worked at several companies. And all love open source software.

In fact their business model is to make expensive and closed source software using mainly free / open source softwares.

That it.

Here the problem is the exact opposite. We all know that for some cases a software that is paid have simply the features you want, a better ergononomy or whatever.

But it is not even an option. All you use shall be free and all you make with it shall be sold at astronomics prices.

You know, open source or not, is not the way to go. You just need to find the software that fits your need, and chose the solution with the best ROI. It's free ? It's expensive ? No one care. It's the ROI that count.

Anonymous's picture

Intellectual property risk.

Intellectual property risk. Patent trolls are specifically targeting some open source applications and then leaning on companies that used the opensource on their own internal development to pay-up or face litigation.

I think that's a real risk, vs a fear.

Josh's picture

Great article!!!!

Great article!!!!

Chad M.'s picture

I work in IT Governance for a

I work in IT Governance for a Fortune 50 and one of our top concerns is divergence. e.g., We select an open source product to meet our need, over time the project changes and we either need to start down our own development tangent or find another product. Beating our own path through development is generally more costly than maintenance on in-house developed apps as developers need to essentially become experts in the core product to do so effectively (something they would have been had they developed an application from scratch) and this burdens the cost over time perception and may create legal issues or concerns if our tangent product must inherit the same license (GPL, etc).

There is also legal concerns that arise when purchasing a company that uses a large Open Source portfolio as valuation of the intellectual property may assign a value to the software used and the law gets rather sticky when one is essentially "purchasing" open source software by purchasing a company whose value has been built upon that software. If the software provides value, a dollar amount is assigned to that value and may be considered a sale of an opensource product.

George Perry's picture

I agree that companies are

I agree that companies are needlessly fearful of open source. Whether it's using a Linux build for their OS, or just switching over to using software like Open Office instead of paying for MS Office, companies need to see the cost benefits of not paying these big corporations bucks when there are quality free alternatives out there.

I do think that the move to computers like netbooks will help as their lack of optical drive is forcing users to use free open source alternatives that are easily downloaded online and don't require a CD or DVD.

Anonymous's picture

A big reason is for buying

A big reason is for buying software is CYA. If something goes bad then there's someone to sue, choose open source and there's a problem then kiss your ass goodbye.

physician assistant's picture

Keep posting stuff like this

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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