by July 2, 2007 0 comments

In India the penetration and knowledge of Open Source is growing and
consequently people are innovating different business strategies around it. You
might argue that since Open Source is Free as in both ‘free beer and free air,’
how can somebody develop a business model around it? But if Red Hat can earn
from Open Source then why can’t we?

No, I am not talking about building your own Linux distro and rolling it out
in the market. That’s possible but might not survive in the face of umpteen
numbers of such distros with some very renowned, stable ones. And starting from
scratch is difficult for someone unless and until he has some really brilliant
ideas to make the distro stand out from the crowd.

Anindya Roy

To start with, there’s an easy market out there. If you search the Net,
you’ll find brilliant solutions for UTM devices, firewalls, mail servers, VoIP
systems, NAS, SAN, etc, all available as customized Open Source distros. And
these applications are in no way inferior to the commercial ones available
except that there is no support available out of the box. And they are just
software. But hardware or cabinets for such appliances are available in
abundance. There are some specialized companies (not Indian) who are developing
such cabinets. Such cabinets (with small footprint motherboard, Processor and
RAM included) are available for a price range starting from a mere INR 10,000 to
INR 50,000. Our research shows that you can build a full featured UC appliance
in just INR 30,000 or less when building in bulk (read this month’s DIY story on
‘Build your Own UC Appliance,’ pg 72).

So, as a business it can be great to build custom appliances and sell them in
the market. Many are already doing so and earning pretty handsomely. The other
thought that creeps into my mind is that as such appliances are easy to build
and have the same capabilities as commercial appliances, then why do we spend a
huge amount in procuring the latter. Just get a bunch of Open Source experts in
your IT team, build your own devices, and start using and supporting them in
house. This way you can save a lot of money, particularly when such devices are
deployed across a large number of branch offices.

In our own company we use a Firewall/Content Filter/Proxy server which is an
Open Source distro running on a standard tower server. It is fulfilling
the needs of the whole organization very well. In Cyber Media Labs, we are using
IP PBX and NAS boxes which have been developed in house and
with a very low investment. And we find them very much at par with any other
commercially available product.

So, all you need to do is to get bodies for the souls (cabinets for software
appliances) and there you are the IT guru who’ll not only save but also earn a
decent amount of money.

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