Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Open Source is Key to Keep Technology Costs Down For Small Businesses

A recent issue of Entrepreneur magazine had articles on starting a blog, virtual workforce, instant messaging, mobile banking, using Skype and a choice of BlackBerry or iPhone. How are you going to do all of that without gearing up with technology?

As a small business, you can leverage technology in one of two ways:

1. Use expensive commercial software.

2. Try free open source software for those areas where it meets your needs.

Luckily, the same issue of Entrepreneur magazine went on to offer tips to revamp small business IT for serious savings. One was to use open source software (OSS). They estimated that a small business could save $18,950 per year by using OSS.

Stars Are Lining Up For SMBs To Use Open Source

In the past, SMBs often have been reluctant to bring in OSS because of a lack of in-house skills. While small businesses still do not have deep OSS expertise, that barrier to adoption is diminishing as OSS is becoming more mature, commercial OSS vendors gear up to support smaller businesses and a growing number of third-party support providers emerge.

While larger enterprises look at OSS for reducing cost and the ability to customize, SMBs in the forefront of this trend, are viewing OSS as an opportunity to bring in latest technologies that earlier were available only through expensive, proprietary applications, analysts say.

With hundreds of millions of downloads and a visible public profile, Linux, Apache, Firefox and OpenOffice provide shining examples for those who are still either unaware or skeptical about OSS.

In addition, we are at a point where you can read in popular print or online magazines successful case studies about larger enterprises using Linux, Apache and other OSS. That eliminates a lot of the concerns that small businesses had about going down an unproven path.

Cost Savings Are Just The Beginning

In our experience, cost savings are just the beginning. CNET Blog Network author and popular OSS columnist Matt Asay puts it more eloquently: "With budgets being cut, now is the time to tap into the innovation and flexibility of open source. Open source isn't solely or even chiefly about reducing costs, but that's a great side effect."

Put On Your Thinking Cap Again

Small businesses are, understandably, gun shy about looking for opportunities to leverage technology to improve their business. Every time they thought of a good idea in the past, the cost of commercial software was so sky high, they not only dropped that idea, but also stopped thinking along those lines. With OSS, that equation has changed dramatically.

We invite small and medium businesses to start putting on your thinking cap again. Now you can get creative. With such a wide choice of OSS now available, even if you come up with the craziest creative idea, there probably already is an open source application that can be customized to implement it.

By : Ashok_Ramachandran

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