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Basics for Adopting Linux/Open Source
Changing Some Old Ideas
May 28, 2002
Let's face it; the chances of all of us waking up tomorrow and finding Microsoft Windows replaced by Linux on every machine in the world are pretty much the same chance that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series: possible, but likely not going to happen in my lifetime.
The adoption of a new platform is not something that happens overnight, especially in the corporate arena, where conservativism often makes the decision to change a slow and complicated process. There are shades of grey wrapped up in every decision--quite a contrast to the often black-and-white world of an IT worker. In that world, if something is broken, fix it. If it breaks repeatedly, re-code it (if you can) or replace it.
These different approaches are probably the major issue behind getting corporations to look at Linux and other open source software seriously. It is not that they have a great love affair with Microsoft's products, but rather the fact that for decision-makers, Windows, for all its flaws and expense, represents that which is known. Linux represents the unknown and no amount of cajoling and endorsement from the IT staff is going to change their minds. Especially if the pro-Linux arguments are couched in technical jargonism that seems like a foreign language.
The successful approach to endorsing Linux use in a company is to make the case in terms that the decision-makers and purse-holders will understand, i.e., financial benefits.
The standard approach to presenting this kind of information. is digging through the Internet and pulling out as many Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) studies that you can find and present them as evidence, making sure to contrast them with the upcoming Software Assurance licensing changes that will take effect for Microsoft applications.
This paper version of "Scared Straight" may shake the managers out of their Microsoft comfort zone (if it hasn't already) and make them more receptive to listening to alternative ideas, but don't expect it to do all the work for you. You may want to suggest trying a test bed solution for Linux/OSS adoption with one team or department in your company first, so the real benefits can be seen with managements' own eyes.
There are more systematic methods that can be used in implementing a platform adoption in an organization, methods that have been tried and true by many consultants and managers. You can use them yourself to try to get Linux into your company.