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Open Source for the Enterprise by Gautam Guliani, Dan Woods

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Open Source Skill Building

Using technology to solve problems in business is rarely easy. Many traps and obstacles lie waiting. Open source projects are not immune to any of the common failures of requirements gathering, project management, or technical glitches that knock projects off track. IT departments must learn to be on the lookout for such problems and understand how to prevent them.

The point of this chapter was to show that open source is a seductively powerful tool. You can quickly make it do amazing things. This can lead an IT department to rush ahead and take advantage of the power of open source without asking the right questions about how it will be supported.

The most common nightmare is that one person understands open source and creates infrastructure or applications using it that nobody else in the IT department understands. When that person leaves, the department is left with an unmaintainable mess. Of course, the same thing happens with custom code or ancient applications. The remedy is a systematic identification of skills needed to support open source and a program for maintaining them inside a department. Compared to the thrill of getting a new open source project working, this is a relatively mundane activity, but one that is required to avoid a nightmare.

Skill building is a gradual process. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time you try anything with open source. Adapting even the most mature open source projects to a normal IT environment will ...

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