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12/13/2007
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Smaller Businesses, Open Source is Going to Get Easier to Use. No More Excuses

Recent research indicates that one of the main reasons smaller businesses don't use open source applications is interoperability between solutions. If that improves, will more smaller businesses go open source? They should.

Recent research indicates that one of the main reasons smaller businesses don't use open source applications is interoperability between solutions. If that improves, will more smaller businesses go open source? They should.Open Solutions Alliance, the self described "nonprofit, vendor-neutral consortium dedicated to driving interoperability and adoption of comprehensive open solutions" recently announced the key findings from its 2007 Customer Forum Series.

Interoperability between open solutions was at the top of everyone's list of reasons why they don't use open source. Specifically for smaller businesses the interoperability applied to "single sign-on and authorization, data integration and synchronization, UI and portal integration, and content management integration."

But hopefully that will start to change. Dominic Sartorio, OSA president is quoted as saying, "These findings represent a clear opportunity for the OSA to out-Microsoft Microsoft by offering a fully interoperable suite of business tools. If we can help our members' solutions work well together it makes it easier for our channel partners to sell open-source software and it will translate into more revenue for vendors and even more options for customers."

Is that what it will take for more smaller businesses to go open source? I recently interviewed Bill Maguire, CTO for Virgin America, about how he set up the 700-employee company's IT infrastructure. Maguire, an open source fan, uses nearly 25 open source applications in his IT shop and says he saved the company millions of dollars by doing so.

Maguire says that for smaller companies, open source is the way to go. "This type of software is huge for [small to midsize companies]," he told me. "It doesn't take a huge capital investment." He added that because so many of the open source apps are now more mature they're easier to set up and use than ever.

What will it take to go open source in your company? What is holding you back?

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