The Open Source Decision

There are currently thousands of open source projects being developed for application areas such as CRM, Medical Records Management, Document & Content Management, Enterprise Messaging and the list goes on and on. Open source software typically means that the source code is available to the public without intellectual property or redistribution restrictions. This enables a development community to improve and add features to the software in a very low cost manner. Some of the most famous open source programs include names such as Linux, Apache, JBoss, MySQL and FreeBSD. The success of free software is well documented and many of these products have been embraced by Fortune 1000 companies.

A new generation of open source projects has once again renewed many companies interest in automating selected business processes with open source technology. Some of the more interesting projects include in Sugar CRM for Salesforce Automation, OpenVista for automating medical records and SubVersion for version control along with many others.

Today, the question on CIOs mind is, “how do we successfully select Open Source software without having to eventually support expensive non- mainstream applications? “ Six key questions to ask regarding the Enterprise readiness of an open source offering are as follows:

  1. Does the existing software meet the specific business need?
  2. Has a third-party company stepped up to support the software?
  3. Does the product innovate some key aspect of the process architecture?
  4. Does the software have a critical mass of developers?
  5. Is there a strong source code and documentation governance process?
  6. How does the technology integrate with existing systems?

HBS Consulting has helped Clients navigate the challenging waters of open-source selection throughout the years. These decisions can significantly impact the corporate bottom line and help the enterprise become more scalable and efficient.

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