Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud

Open Source Cloud: Article

How Do You Sell Open Source to Management?Manage two little words: "Fear" and "Greed"

How Do You Sell Open Source to Management?Manage two little words: "Fear" and "Greed"

Linux's time has come. I'm convinced of it. You're probably convinced of it too, or you wouldn't be reading this! But what about your management? Are they convinced? Can you be successful if they aren't? More importantly, how do you convince them?

This article explores the challenges in selling "open source" to management. (It's probably pretty useful as well to managers who want to gain the benefits of open source software, but don't know how to manage the risk associated with making the change.) While these ideas apply to Linux directly, they can really be applied to any open source technology.

The keys to success lie in understanding how to see both sides of the equation. First, understand yourself and the technology you want to use. Second, understand management's motivations and the buttons you can push to help you get your way.

Convincing Yourself

Success, it is said, happens "when preparation meets opportunity." In this case, convincing yourself is the most critical part of preparation.

Convincing yourself mean making sure the technology you want to use is "ready for prime time." In the case of Linux, this means making sure the particular application you want to use is solid.

Before opening your mouth and committing to delivering an application by a fixed date, consider these rules:

Rule No. 1: Wait until at least a "1.0 release" - please!

I know it's tempting. I've been there and had to pull myself back from the edge. But if you commit to going to production using a product that's not ready, you may find yourself in the computer room at 1 a.m. the night before acceptance testing checking flight schedules to Jamaica or surfing monster.com.

Rule No. 2: Look for an active committer base

I don't mean just a single individual, either. Look for projects where there are commits from a dedicated group happening every day. These are the teams that respond quickly when a major bug is found.

Rule No. 3: Monitor the mailing lists for a while

Are questions routinely answered the same day (or within minutes or hours) by two or more people? Imagine that the questions asked were yours - and that hitting launch date was dependent upon somebody answering. Do you trust that someone would be there for you?

Rule No. 4: (Most importantly) Use the software

Find some little out-of-the-way application where you can test it out. The application doesn't have to be big - but it should be something you use for a while to see how things go.

For example, I'm going to have to build an e-mail processing app next spring and I've been considering using Jakarta James for it. James has some very cool technologies for building mail apps that may be really useful. So I installed James on one of our servers and built some JUnit tests for testing code I have right now that sends e-mail. Every time I do a build now, I'm running these tests that exercise my e-mail code by sending e-mail to James and reading it back.

Over the next few months I'll monitor the testing to see if I ever lose messages, or if I have to restart the server often or have other problems. Hopefully I'll get a good feeling for how reliable it is.

Convincing Your Boss

So once you've convinced yourself, how do you convince your DLPHB (Dilbert-Like Pointed-Haired Boss)? How do you convince management you should be using open source?

The answer's simple: by managing these two words - Fear and Greed.

The Greed part is obvious. Your manager wants to get ahead, right? Managers get ahead by saving money, hitting deadlines, and delivering quality. OS can help them do all of these. Use these arguments:

1. Open source means no cost. This translates to:
- No spending time with sales people
- No getting purchase orders signed
- No annual maintenance agreements to budget for
- No user licenses to keep track of
- No contracts for review by the company lawyers

2. Hitting deadlines can be easier:
- Support responses in minutes or hours
- Having source code helps isolate bugs faster
- Drawing on the experience of other users is easier

3. Delivering quality because:
- "Many eyes on the code" means bugs are found quickly.
- All bug listings are online. If there are bugs, you know about them.
- If all else fails, you can fix the code yourself if you need to.

Managing the Fear part is trickier, though not impossible. It can be harder, because most of the things managers are afraid of can't be easily quantified. Managers fear things like:

4. The open source project will disappear.
Successful OS projects don't just go away. Assuming you've done your homework and this project is good, the user base will stick around. Even if the project goes away, you still have all the source code - which is more than a vendor going out of business will give you.

5. The open source project is some "cool" technology that you want to play with.

Managers sometimes think programmers just like to play with new technologies all the time. That's because many programmers actually do like to play with new technologies all the time.

Look in the mirror here. This is where you make or break the decision. Have you used the product internally for a while? Do you have a prototype? Can you give a demonstration? You can succeed here if you've done your homework and you can communicate things clearly.

Communicating clearly sometimes means talking in "business terms." It means talking about saving money, or speeding up delivery, or having an easier time hiring experienced people.

As an example of how to put together a presentation on for management, I've made available a PowerPoint presentation to help sell manager-types on using Jakarta Struts. It's yours to use free - you can download it at the companion site for my book, Struts Kick Start.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

Comments (5) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Kevin Bedell 04/21/03 02:03:00 PM EDT

You've described the requirements for Linux to *replace* windows for most desktop users. However, these are not the requirements for Linux to dominate specific application areas.

For example, Linux dominates for running Web Servers. Linux is catching up in other areas as well such as hosting application servers and hosting database servers (non-MS databases).

Don't rule Linux out for all apps just because it may not make sense for *all* users in *all* environments. Pick and choose and you'll find that Linux is superior for many, many applications.

JJ Cinecoe 04/18/03 12:48:00 PM EDT

Linux will win only when;
1) Users can load and work with windowlike environment from the get go without adapting to command line paradym;
2) Linux can adapt or emulate windows OS environment, alike to common web services
3) Ability to run wins apps on Lintel/linux.

Dr. Who 04/15/03 05:52:00 AM EDT

http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?host=www.cdc.gov

:-).

Yes Really.. CDC is doing it.. :-)

malcolm Spence 04/14/03 05:13:00 PM EDT

We have been supporting a few open source products for many years. Another important aspects is commercial quality support, documentation, training etc. You can have all the lower costs of deploying open source and still get access to 24 by 7 support for mission critical systems.
Over the years we have comiled a list of reasons why clients use open source. It has got very comprehensive check it out at http://www.theaceorb.com/product/benefit.html

Tacoma 04/07/03 04:27:00 PM EDT

This is just like where I work. We've been tryiung to justify using Linux internally for a long time but can't get Management to agree.

I think they're just scared of it breaking and what they would say if it did. They don't realize it's much more solid the Windows servers they make us run.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...