Myths Debunked: Why It Isn't So Tough To Switch To Open Source

by Ostatic Staff - May. 12, 2010

Can businesses and organizations paying for expensive licenses for proprietary software successfully switch to free, open source alternatives? If you ask many IT managers about that, they'll cite two common reasons why the answer is no, including "lack of adequate support" and "insufficient documentation." Or, as discussed in this post, inexplicable bugs in open source software can outrule the switch.

However, if you take a close look at the roadblocks to switching to free software solutions, it becomes clear that there are workarounds. In some cases these are free, and in some cases they cost very little. In this post, we'll use the example of a business looking to switch from Microsoft's Office suite to the free, open source OpenOffice suite.

Debunking Myth #1: There Is No Documentation. In the case of OpenOffice, there is in fact substantial free documentation for the suite, and there are free tutorials. You can find documentation for specific versions here. You can also find many free OpenOffice books here. You can also find many useful Flash tutorials here.

Debunking Myth #2: There Is No Support. OpenOffice has a very large community of users, and the Community Support option can be sufficient for many users, but it's not the only option. Inexpensive consultants offer support for OpenOffice, and there are inexpensive third-party solutions for paid support. OpenLogic is just one of the available providers.

In the coming years, improvements in the quality of open source software and other trends will cause many organizations to consider switching from proprietary solutions to open source ones. In some cases, this may be prompted by Microsoft's own policies. For example, Microsoft will not support Windows XP Professional after 2014. The good news is that if you do a bit of homework, it becomes clear that switching to open source alternatives is doable.