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Making the most of smaller IT budgets with Enterprise Open Source

It comes as no surprise to many of us that organisations need more out of ever smaller IT budgets – faster and, more importantly, stable tools, methodologies and processes to help you succeed. Success is a very personal thing, every organisation has its own definition of what success looks like – scale or growth or profits? (Personally I as Director very much buy into the Be More Pirate approach to success.)

How does a stretched budget square with the increasing need to compete – be it for business, donations or even ‘Likes’ on a Social Media platform? There is no silver bullet but there are armouries available if you know where to look.

I recently spoke to an in-house lawyer who complained to me that their IT Department (who we are consulting with) often have contracts that aren’t terminated in accordance with a contract, and so roll-over into fresh annual subscriptions. It costs her no end of time and the firm money untangling this, when in fact a Contract Management solution could stop IT from misbehaving.

After a few more drinks and talking further about examples of the issue I thought, well yes but there are solutions out there for it. She exclaimed: but is it free? A fundamental question! I did some hunting on a more sober Monday and after half an hour I had an answer. The short answer is yes: The Accord Project is a free to use Open Source Smart-Contract Management software and a major sponsor is a Legal500 law firm. The long answer is: it still has implementation costs the same as any solution, but yes it has an open license and you can dip your toes into it without losing them.

We are currently supporting a migration due to the acquisition of her company and the buyer is a 10,000+ international household cleaning product maker. They don’t have a Contract Management solution either…

I hope this gives some perspective on what Enterprise Open Source can look like in practice. A conversation, a stretched budget and a desperate need to save money through automation and smarter ways to manage complex commercial agreements. And a quick look online to say: ‘hmm this could maybe work’?

Often Enterprise Open Source has a large commercial backer, and uses a range of licenses in order to achieve scale through the platform. This is the case with the Accord Project, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux which leads 80% of the Linux market. They embody excellence, regularly winning global awards for the best value products.

By using existing technologies and working in an Open way organisations of any size can use bleeding-edge technologies at no upfront cost. You can pay for the award-winning Service Desk at Red Hat alongside so much else to help you keep things running, alongside Smart Management which lets you manage your estate through the Cloud… or you can settle for the software and go it alone.

Both options are perfectly legitimate. For smaller organisations you will find that Enterprise Open Source has smaller off-shoots, such as the Fedora Project or Linux Mint (you can read more about Linux on this blog).

These ecosystems are what makes Enterprise Open Source an efficient and effective way to implement technologies without draining your IT budget.

Yes, it takes expertise to deliver a solution and that is why we wrote this piece on Budgeting for open-source projects – briefly: focus on the Return On Investment in the short and long term and be critical of potential suppliers who don’t take it seriously.

We will use one more example: Red Hat Ansible Tower.

Red Hat Ansible Tower, alongside OpenShift, is used by a range of organisations from the British Army to Microsoft in order to deploy at scale and do so consistently. They’ve gone from taking weeks and months to do operate or build systems, to hours and days.

BUT plain Ansible is just fine. You can administer a Medium to Large organisation readily using the ‘Vanilla’ Ansible platform, it’s just as powerful but does take longer to set up initially.

Enterprise Open Source allows you to identify a technology that you want, that your largest competitors may not even be benefitting from yet, and simply ask ‘what’s the ecosystem which makes this happen?’

What comes next may need a keen eye to know if the solution fits, and steady hands to make it yours, but there is a solution already there for you.

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