One of the biggest advantages that open source provides to IT departments is choice. Open source allows companies to avoid vendor lock-in, which can lead to higher costs and restricted options. On the other hand, choice can be a burden, because options must be evaluated, which might be difficult to do in an emerging market.
The best thing IT departments can do is test the offers provided to them in every way possible. It is likely that certified bundles will be available for installation on a trial basis. IT departments can call hotlines to determine the support staff’s expertise and availability.
Commercial open source support services are one way of closing the skills gap. However, they might not work for every situation. Sometimes the skills, not the software, require support. It is possible that commercial open source support services could evolve in this direction and offer education as well as support services. As more IT departments experiment with open source, they likely will find that they need support of some kind. After all, it is a lot easier to get open source working than it is to configure it, tune it, and solve its problems.
This year is shaping up to be a period of intense learning for IT departments as well as for commercial open source support providers. Eventually, if the services can be provided for a reasonable price to a large enough base of customers, a mature and stable open source support offering will be defined. Until then, IT departments ...