Open Source for the Enterprise
Managing Risks, Reaping Rewards
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: July 2005
Pages: 236

Open source software is changing the world of Information Technology. But making it work for your company is far more complicated than simply installing a copy of Linux. If you are serious about using open source to cut costs, accelerate development, and reduce vendor lock-in, you must institutionalize skills and create new ways of working. You must understand how open source is different from commercial software and what responsibilities and risks it brings. Open Source for the Enterprise is a sober guide to putting open source to work in the modern IT department.

Open source software is software whose code is freely available to anyone who wants to change and redistribute it. New commercial support services, smaller licensing fees, increased collaboration, and a friendlier platform to sell products and services are just a few of the reasons open source is so attractive to IT departments. Some of the open source projects that are in current, widespread use in businesses large and small include Linux, FreeBSD, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL, JBOSS, and Perl. These have been used to such great effect by Google, Amazon, Yahoo!, and major commercial and financial firms, that a wave of publicity has resulted in recent years, bordering on hype. Large vendors such as IBM, Novell, and Hewlett Packard have made open source a lynchpin of their offerings. Open source has entered a new area where it is being used as a marketing device, a collaborative software development methodology, and a business model.

This book provides something far more valuable than either the cheerleading or the fear-mongering one hears about open source. The authors are Dan Woods, former CTO of and a consultant and author of several books about IT, and Gautam Guliani, Director of Software Architecture at Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions. Each has used open source software for some 15 years at IT departments large and small. They have collected the wisdom of a host of experts from IT departments, open source communities, and software companies.

Open Source for the Enterprise provides a top to bottom view not only of the technology, but of the skills required to manage it and the organizational issues that must be addressed. Here are the sorts of questions answered in the book:

  • Why is there a "productization gap" in most open source projects?
  • How can the maturity of open source be evaluated?
  • How can the ROI of open source be calculated?
  • What skills are needed to use open source?
  • What sorts of open source projects are appropriate for IT departments at the beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert levels?
  • What questions need to be answered by an open source strategy?
  • What policies for governance can be instituted to control the adoption of open source?
  • What new commercial services can help manage the risks of open source?
  • Do differences in open source licenses matter?
  • How will using open source transform an IT department?

Praise for Open Source for the Enterprise:"Open Source has become a strategic business issue; decisions on how andwhere to choose to use Open Source now have a major impact on theoverall direction of IT abilities to support the business both withcapabilities and by controlling costs. This is a new game and onegenerally not covered in existing books on Open Source which continue toassume that the readers are 'deep dive' technologists, Open Source for the Enterprise provides everyone from business managers to technologistswith the balanced view that has been missing. Well worth the time toread, and also worth encouraging others in your enterprise to read as well." ----Andy Mulholland - Global CTO Capgemini

"Open Source for the Enterprise is required reading for anyone workingwith or looking to adopt open source technologies in a corporateenvironment. Its practical, no-BS approach will make sure you're armedwith the information you need to deploy applications successfully (aswell as helping you know when to say "no"). If you're trying to sell opensource to management, this book will give you the ammunition you need.If you're a manager trying to drive down cost using open source, thisbook will tell you what questions to ask your staff. In short, it's aclear, concise explanation of how to successfully leverage open sourcewithout making the big mistakes that can get you fired." ----Kevin Bedell - founding editor of LinuxWorld Magazine

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Review of Open Source for the Enterprise""

By Mark Weisler

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A Brief Review of “Open Source for the Enterprise” by Dan Woods and Gautam Guliani

Review by Mark Weisler, March 2006

“Open Source for the Enterprise”, ISBN 0-596-10119-8, published by O'Reilly, is an excellent book. Anyone in information technology (IT) should consider it required reading. The authors explain the nature of free and open software and how it is changing the IT landscape.

They explain how open software is different from proprietary software, how to obtain open software and how it is supported. The book explains what to expect and not expect in open systems. The authors analyze the skills gap that exists in an individual or an IT group when first approaching open software as this gap can cause frustration or project disappointment if not managed properly. The book offers strategies for the exploration and adoption of open source that reduce the frustration and risks of this new technology frontier.

Open source software is a major force in IT now and IT is, in turn, a major force in global society and economics as described by Thomas L. Friedman in “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century”, ISBN 0374292884. Hence, the technology described by Woods and Guliani is important to all of us as it helps connect people all over the world to share knowledge, distribute work, and open and develop markets.

The authors paint a realistic and complete picture of the open source world yet convey the excitement that the empowerment of open source brings to the world. I highly recommend the book to IT, consultants, and administrators who are in a position to influence or consume IT services.

I recommend that people new to open source find a good “live CD” distribution of Linux (maybe from as a quick, no-risk way to experience open source software, and attend Linux user group meetings for a while to augment what is learned through this book.

About Mark Weisler: I've been in the IT industry for 31 years as a programmer, network designer, systems architect, consultant, and manager. I have used Linux since 1995 for many application areas and notably network services in an enterprise setting.

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