by June 1, 2009 0 comments

One of the biggest mind blocks to adoption of Open Source in enterprises is
availability of support, or rather the lack of it. To demystify support issues,
as well as understand the real value of Open Source software in the enterprise,
PCQuest organized a CIO round table discussion on the subject in Mumbai last
month, along with its partners Sun Microsystems and Wipro. The conference was
attended by key CIOs from a cross section of Indian enterprises.

The event kicked with an introduction to Open Source adoption trends in
Indian enterprises by Anil Chopra, Editor PCQuest. Anil disclosed the results of
the recently conducted Open Source survey by PCQuest, in which 120+ CIOs had
participated. The survey’s results had shown that most CIOs were skeptical about
using Open Source because they felt it was difficult to find support for it.

The next presenter, Mitesh Agarwal, Regional Presales Head, Sun Microsystems
explored the value of open source software, and broke a few myths about it to
make the picture clearer. Aravanudan of Wipro spoke next about how enterprises
can deploy Open Source software. The last speaker was P. Sebastian, VP-IT and
Head Technology at Mudra Group, who presented real life usage examples of Open
Source software. He took the audience through some powerful examples of how his
organization was using Open Source software and benefiting.

The last item on the evening agenda (besides cocktails and dinner!) was a
panel discussion, which moderated by Anil. Apart from all the speakers, Ashish
Dandekar, CIO of PowerExchange India was also a panelist. Ashish had led a team
to develop some truly mission critical business apps on Open Source, the details
of which he shared with the audience. The discussion tried to find answers to
support issues surrounding Open Source software. Is it really difficult to find?
How does it compare to the closed source software, and so on?

The panelists (from L to R): Anil Chopra, Editor PCQuest
(Moderator), P. Sebastian, VP-IT and Head Technology, Mudra Group, Mitesh
Agarwal, Regional Presales head, Sun Microsystems, Aravanudan of Wipro, and
Ashish Dandekar, CIO, PowerExchange India

The key point that emerged from the discussion was that before even getting
into support issues, CIOs must be clear about what they want to achieve from a
particular Open Source software. The panel felt that it’s very easy to download
Open Source software, but in order to deploy and use it, you would either
require inhouse expertise, or an external partner who could do it for you.
Either way, you would end up paying for support. The difficulty here is that
unlike commercial software, where you know whom to go to for support, you’re
unsure in case of Open Source. This is what scares a lot of CIOs away from
deploying Open Source software. CIOs must learn to appreciate the fact that Open
Source gives them the opportunity to download some really wonderful applications
from the Internet without paying anybody anything. They should not take this
benefit of Open Source software for granted. Just because they’re not paying
licensing costs doesn’t mean that they don’t have to pay anything.

The panel felt that whatever hurdles you face with closed source software,
you could also face with Open Source. So CIOs must be very clear about their
requirements and the need to deploy Open Source software; only then would they
appreciate its value.

Isha Gakhar

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