The process for successful use of IT in business, or for any purpose, is one of understanding the business’s needs, understanding the technology’s capabilities, and then crafting a process that meets the needs with help from the technology.
Most IT disasters stem from misunderstanding the business’s needs and the technology’s capabilities. Open source will not change this dynamic. For many companies it will simply provide a new form of technology to misunderstand. It won’t help companies understand their needs.
The question of whether to use open source really calls into focus how an IT department sees itself. Confident, highly skilled IT departments never ask whether they should use open source. The staff simply looks for the best tools and uses them, regardless of the source, and figures out how to make it work for the company. The managers of these departments know what they are getting into and make sure engineering practices are strong to protect the department from cowboy tendencies.
But most IT departments are not Google, Amazon.com, Yahoo!, or Ticketmaster. You have to ask yourself: should you seek to emulate those companies, if not entirely, then in a small area where it would make a difference? Can you find just one open source application that would save the company money, provide some significant value, and help build the department’s skills? If this process starts and is properly managed, it will transform and empower an IT department. If ...