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.