ACTION: Ensure that every software component evaluation looks at both proprietary and open source options. Develop a structured evaluation process and criteria used in evaluations to ensure common approach and impartial decision-making. Of course, be sure to factor in ongoing investment necessary to work with an open source project/product to ensure apples to apples comparisons.
* Be active in communities: What largely makes open source succeed is the fact that people are constantly improving the software. Having users take an active approach is key, and likewise, working with open source project leaders when changing code. Sharing successful strategies also helps strengthen the community -- after all, successful adoption of open source is based on the best practices and experiences of others.
ACTION: Attend local and national open source-related meetups and conferences. Identify staff to get involved in important and critical open source projects/products and support their involvement. Consider financial support for important and critical projects/products.
* Last, but certainly not least, beware what we call the "new legacy": Many IT organizations leverage open source components to build new applications, but overlook the reality that those applications become an ongoing engineering commitment. Many IT organizations have built home-grown DevOps tool chains that string together open source components. The problem is that, down the road, the original engineers have left and the undocumented system is a mess, and then those organizations realize that open source can result in legacy too.
Being free and flexible isn't a sufficient reason to decide you're now in the open source-based application business. Every line of code you write becomes an ongoing responsibility.
The nature of enterprise IT is rapidly evolving and with these changes, open source is becoming a much higher percentage of every IT organization's environment. As more organizations get aboard the open source train, the necessary skills will become critically important -- not only for using open source wisely, but for ensuring your enterprise remains competitive in the Third Platform world.
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