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CIO Speak

Open source implementation challenges

What according to you could be some of the challenges CIOs might face while implementing open source?

Change in mindset - This is the major challenge for implementing any new initiative. This has to start from the top - with the CIO himself/herself. The CIO needs to first get convinced before rolling out. Practice before you preach

Convince your team - It is imperative that the CIO discusses the merits of the case with his/her own team. Half the battle is won if the team is 100% on your side. In some cases this could be a time consuming process.

Be a guinea pig - Do the pilot starting with you and your team. Document all the issues and resolutions to the issues. Users are bound to face the same issues when the roll out happens. Convert the Q&A into FAQs.

Identify Champions - When there is a large deployment especially that covers multiple physical locations it is next to impossible for the IT team to reach out to everyone. One-way of overcoming this is to identify champions from the peer groups and orient/train them.

Planning – the roll out needs to be well planned especially if it affects users directly. E.g. open office implementation. Map the users in the organization into status users, power users and general users. Status users typically consist of senior management members. Power users are those users who use more than 15% of the office features – macros, forms, etc. Remaining users fall under the general category. 80% of the users, in most enterprises, fall under the general user category. One could further categorize these users based on the functions performed – secretarial, accounts, sales, marketing, etc. To begin with one needs to select a function that would have the least "disturbance."

Help Desk – have a proper mechanism in place to address the user issues. Depending on the size of the deployment this could be a combination of in-house and/or outsourced model.

Can constantly changing code base of many projects by different programmers could peril the open source project? Justify

Open source projects are controlled by a "governing" group/body who does release management after due diligence. Although multiple developers contribute to the project the release is subject to quality approvals and priorities. This ensures much wider contribution to the open source projects.

It is said that end user support, training, consultancy of open source is poor due to improper documentation of developed modules from various sources outside the parent company. How far you agree to this statement?

Most of the open source solutions come in multiple flavors - The community edition and the support edition. Licensing cost is free. However user has an option to subscribe to the support edition and get paid support.

Earlier the open source adoption was at a nascent stage. Off late it has picked up considerably. As a result the support eco system is growing.

Why does open source cannot bring in innovation like in architecture, etc.?

Open source technologies/frameworks are tools that are available. It depends completely on the enterprise the kind of innovation they would like to bring in using these tools. In my opinion innovation using the open source tools is limited to the imagination of the enterprise. If I could take our own example we have done quite a number of innovative projects using open source technologies/frameworks.

Is interoperability for (compatibility & integration with hardware, software, network) one of the reasons for low adoption of open source? Explain

Infact open source has a wider interoperability as compared to proprietary software. Most of the open source softwares are available across multiple operating systems. This is not the case with proprietary softwares. E.g. Microsoft products predominantly run only on Windows environment.

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