Six Options For Open-Source Support

Companies are turning to open-source software as an alternative to vendor lock-in.
Open-source support needs will vary, depending on the type and purpose of the software your organization is using. You must also take future requirements into account when embarking on a support strategy. Here's how to get started.

Month 1 > Audit current and future use of open source

  • Compile a list of all open-source software in use or under consideration. Even include software that staffers have been using without authorization.

  • Identify your internal leads for each open-source component and how support is currently provided. Name a point person for each component identified; learn how the software is supported, if at all.

  • Determine the ideal level of support for each open-source component, based on the software's importance to the business. For example, open-source software in production requires greater support than an open-source tool the development team is using.

    Month 2 > Devise a plan for open-source support

  • Talk with your organization's legal and purchasing departments about open-source software. Open-source use isn't just an IT-development issue. Your development team should work closely with your IT-operations team.

  • Develop an open-source support plan that includes clearly defined expectations. Explore all support options for each open-source component.

  • Review your budget to fund new initiatives. Supplemental support for existing open-source software will involve additional costs. Make sure new costs are captured; propose costs as new items for the next budget cycle.

  • Evaluate new open-source components as though you were evaluating commercial software, with selection criteria identified for support.

    Month 3 > Begin to roll out your plan

  • Record sources of community support for all open-source components.

  • Survey existing IT suppliers about their level of open-source expertise and opportunities for support. Evaluate additional open-source suppliers.

  • Create an RFP for open-source support, based on your audit and support plan. Distribute the RFP to providers, including existing IT suppliers and product- and stack-support specialists. Have your internal development and operations teams reply to the RFP as if they were outside suppliers.

  • Look at training and hiring capabilities to strengthen internal support.