The 30 Second Pitch
I had the chance to make a "mock pitch" about open source enterprise applications to five CIO's. Here are their responses to it.
"I'd like to speak with you about how we can solve your problems with enterprise applications, which are: the high cost of acquisition, high cost of implementation and customization, and high cost of maintenance. These problems are exacerbated by the ongoing consolidation in the industry.
"Open source enterprise applications allow you to acquire the software for free, customize it as much as you need because you have full access to the source code, and, at the end of the day, control your own maintenance decisions."
CIO #1: You got my attention with the "free" part. How does it work?
A: Well, you download it for free and try it out. If it works for you, you do a pilot. If that proves it can meet all of your needs, you go forward with an implementation. At the end of the day, you can make all your decisions about what to do with it--you can upgrade it when you want and get maintenace and support from whom you want. There's no vendor lock-in because you have the code.
CIO #1: You got my attention. These are definitely benefits we'd want to talk about.
CIO #2: We're really not interested in open source. I don't want to bring code in; I want vendors who provide complete solutions. I want them to take care of the generic layer for my business and my own people to focus on strategic IT that will deliver real value to our company. Open source may help us get to market faster, but I don't want in-house development to take away resources from our strategic initiatives. If there's a large organization supporting an open source solution, then we'd consider it just like anything else.
CIO #3: I'm just really concerned about whether it will be robust and secure enough to meet our needs, and how you as a vendor will survive. We have to prove to our Board that our vendors are financially viable and will be around for a while. If you're selling "free," how can you survive? I'd really need to understand your business model.
CIO #4: We use open source actively in our organization, and it's a major part of our strategy. But the evaluation is not so cut and dry. We'll have to consider it and do our due diligence in the same way as for any other solution. We'd have to study the total cost of ownership, maintenance, and support available. In some cases, we've found that an open source solution actually costs us more than commercial ones. We'd also want to support it in house, since we have a large amount of high quality IT resources available.
CIO #5: We love the idea, and I think it's the future. We don't have enough internal developers and resources for something like it right now, but we want to get there because we want to control our own destiny.