[clug-talk] Suggestions?

Kin C Wong kwong at csa-pdk.com
Wed Mar 23 15:18:52 PST 2005

>Related to Sheridan's post, I'm in the middle of a cost analysis for my own
>networks.  I'm curious to see what the price would be if I were using
>commercial products (aka non-open source).


As usual, some very thoughtful comments.  Your consideration of 
contributing factors to cost are what I would consider as hard 
components.  There are a number of soft components that are typically 
ignored in these analysis (generally because they are difficult to quantify).

(Before I get irate replies from the masses, I support both Linux and Open 
Source.)  These are some of the drawbacks that I need to consider when 
making decisions.  On the server side, there are few issues as there are 
established standards and protocols -- it matters not to the end users or 
the rest of the organization on what products are in use.   What matters 
generally is efficiency, effectiveness, security, initial cost, 
implementation cost, maintenance costs, training (capability, competence 
and availability of supplemental resources), vendor response, etc (I likely 
have missed some important items).  When considering these factors, Linux 
and some Open Source generally wins.  In the world of Floss which I include 
Linux distros, there are many choices but these choices come with a 
price.  I find that consultants in the Floss word need to be (and generally 
are) more knowledgeable, skilled and competent than in the Windows world.

On the application and/or desktop side, the story is different.  One of the 
biggest item concerns is the flow of information and documents both inside 
the organization and outside.  The world of Floss would be find is I were 
the sole producer of documents and the consumers were happy being limited 
to pdf files.  If the consumer of the information that I produce do not 
need to add, delete or edit the information I supply to produce another 
document, floss works fine.  Within an organization, if there are 
applications standards floss will also work very well.  Unfortunately this 
breaks down when we need to exchange documents with other 
organizations.  There is no software out there that will read every format 
and even when they attempt to, there is limited success for some 
formats.  Our best success would be to assess what format is the most 
popular (not necessary the best) for a specific application and is there a 
floss application that is equivalent.  The best examples of this would be 
Open Office.  While I would not hesitate to recommend it to most people 
there are a couple of caveats.  At this point in time, this Floss 
application is comparable to MS Office but it has not always been that way 
in the pass and may not be in the future.  Secondly, as the average person 
only uses 5% of the features (or likely less than that), Open Office is 
more than adequate, however for a very advance user or complex documents, 
there are considerable incompatibilities between the two products.  As you 
can see the cost can be huge for some but no consideration required for others.

The old adage, "No one got fired for buying IBM" is still very much alive 
in the software world.  In general, if you by what is popular and is viewed 
to be tried and true, you can't really get into much trouble even when the 
solution does not work.

Just my .02

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