5 Fears of Open Source in Corporate Culture
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?