Picking your open source vendor

There are many reasons that may drive your company, division or service to decide to implement open source solutions, products or technologies for your IT. That is more and more an easy decision. Open source is being used all over the world, businesses, and governments alike.

The tricky part is not deciding to use open source, but rather to select which products to use and which vendor and/or system integrator you get them from.

Here is a list of some of the criteria you will want to take into consideration when selecting your vendor.

  • Strong financials and staying power. You want the vendor you pick will still be there for the whole duration of your project. Selecting an open source solution helps in that if your vendor disappears from the market, you can still find expertise to support your system, but it's still much better if the vendor is there and keeps driving the product development the way you expect it.
  • Enterprise class support, with global reach. In particular, make sure the vendor / integrator you work with can support your operations at any time you are conducting them, and in every location you are. If your service runs 24x7 all over the globe, the last thing you want to hear is that support only works 9-to-5 in one single timezone. If your IT is deployed in a location around the globe from your main office, it should benefit from support there as well.
  • Strategic relationship between your service and your vendor. Your  service or business depends on your IT. Your vendor should be involved strategically with you. The vendor should understand not only your IT needs, but your business needs, so that when you express new specific requirements, they are properly taken into account by your vendor the way you expect them.
It's not easy picking an IT solution. In fact, these criteria are very similar for open source and for proprietary software. The difference is that with open source solutions, you get the option of selecting alternate sources for support, maintenance, and future evolutions of your software and the guaranty that if one vendor has issues you can fall back to another without exit costs. It's like all the benefits of dual-sourcing your vendors... but with just one product and no migrating from one product to the other when changing vendor sources.
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