Open Source is Good in a Recession, but Thought is Still Required

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 19, 2008

Today, on his ZDNet blog, Paul Murphy wrote about non-IT managers examining the upkeep costs of an IT department. While I agree wholeheartedly that open source software is a great option for businesses (regardless of economic climate), there is more than cost to consider. "Just switching everything to Linux" likely will save money in the long term, but it might not be right to do, right now.

When cash flow is tight, it's madness to make snap decisions -- even if they seem to save huge amounts of money. I am by no means saying it isn't worth making this switch. But do it wisely, for everyone's sake.

Deploying open source software with forethought, in the right areas, will save money. Done wisely, in the midst of a recession, it could save your business. But to "just switch" -- Murphy uses the example of laying off the small IT staff, and hiring a consultant to make the transition to Linux -- could cost a business everything.

No operating system (or piece of hardware) is a perpetual motion machine, and nothing is without cost. I wrote earlier this year about some migration considerations, inspired by some great insights on the process by Jack Wallen at TechRepublic. Never mind that suggesting the adoption of open source software blindly reflects badly on the open source movement (I'd dare say it reflects badly whether the migration is successful or not) -- it could potentially cost many their jobs (the laid off IT staff, and the non-IT manager who didn't quite get what's involved in a new system deployment).

Open source software adoption is a great way to save money and be more productive. But it's always important to look before you leap.